Sunday, March 27, 2011

Crispy Chicken Taco Nuggets

I made this few nights ago for our next day lunch and honestly everything took about 20 minutes or to prepare. the recipe is inspired by "cook like James" and I did my own modifications to it. it is very fast and delicious ( little spicy) and definitely needs to be eaten with special sauce. so let's get down to cooking :)

2 cup of crushed potato chips  ( or you could use corn chips as original recipe) 
1 egg
2 tablespoon milk
3 chicken breast fillets cut into 5 cm cubes  ( or you can use boneless thighs) 
1/3 cup melted butter ( or you can use spray cooking oil or olive oil)
1/2 cup flour
Salt and pepper as you wish
Taco seasoning ( to mix with flour) 
2 teaspoon of chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin 
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of coriander
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 F. place a wire rack on baking sheet and spray the rack with cooking oil ( if you don't have cooking spray , just oil up a napkin and rub the rack with it).
Pat dry chicken pieces with paper towel and season them with salt and pepper (don't forget to do the both side).

then take 2 dishes and one bowl. first mix the flour with taco seasoning in plate number 1, set aside; then mix the egg and milk in the bowl. in 3rd plate spread the crushed chips and set aside. 
Coat chicken pieces in the flour mixture, then dip them in the egg mixture and finally roll them in the chips. place each pieces on the prepared wire rack and drizzle them with melted butter or spray them with cooking oil. cook them until they get golden which takes about 20-25 minutes ( for thighs more time is necessary).

After they are done take them out of the oven and serve them with your favorite dipping sauce. since it is taco nuggets you could use mixture of salsa with sour cream. 
Hope you enjoy this, I know we did :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Hair besties series- E1: use protection

Styling hair with heat stylers like blow-dry, curling iron or flat iron always gives the best results. but heat itself is not good for hair and could damage it because of several reasons:
Heat can dry out the internal moisture content of hair; it can also effect and disturb the natural proteins and oils in the hair.
All these damage could make hair more sensitive which could cause hair to split and break more easily. 
So with this brief introduction it is fair to say that everyone needs to use hair protection when they use heat. I use it all the time even when I just drying my hair with a blow dry. I just spray a generous amount of my heat protector all over my hair and leave it for a few minutes to dry out and then use whatever heat device I am planning to use. 

How heat protection products work!?
Well these products work by coating the hair with something that could protects them form high temperature. these products could be different silicones (cyclomethicone, amodimethicone, gum blends or anything ending with "cone"), mineral oils,.... but when I looked for it silicone based materials are much more suitable for this purpose because they have low thermal conductivity which means comparing to water and some mineral oil they transmit the heat to hair more slowly. meaning the hair temperature will  increase more slowly when coated with heat protection products so the water content of the hair, protein will stay less effected. 

Is it necessary to go buy a separate product for heat protection? 
The answer is not very easy. if you use hair conditioner before using heat stylers just look at its components and see if some heat protection materials are used. I personally do not like to use oil on my hair before using curling iron or flat iron because it looks like I am frying my hair then; so not a good situation :). I always check on the back of the package. 
There are always some well priced heat protection products out there like TRESemmé,  Pantene,.... just a quick note that, I personally do not like "Redken  Satinwear 02 Ultimate Blow-Dry Lotion" it kinda left my hair little crunchy rather that silky.

So here is my taught on hair heat protection, hope this was helpful . 
till next time,

Monday, March 21, 2011

Simple fish and broccoli

I made this meal few nights ago as for our next day lunch ;). it is just a basic fried tilapia fish and some broccoli as side dish. The thing that made it little different from an ordinary fried fish was that the flour used for coating the fish was mixed with dry  dill. first I used salt and pepper on both sides of the fish for seasoning, then I coat them with mixture of flour and dill, then with mixture of egg, milk.and  fry them in a hot pan with little bit of oil till both sides get golden. As a side dish I wanted something saucy ;so I mixed  about 1/3 cup of mayonnaise with 2 table spoon of vinegar. in a bowl I mixed about 3 cups of  broccoli florets and 1/3 cup of  sliced green onion ( or you could also used red onion)  and mixed them well with the prepared sauce. and as the final step I sprinkled the with about 1/4 cup of toasted sliced onion. 
The dill smells great ,specially when it starts to fry. it add a special taste to the fish. just a quick and easy fix for dinner or lunch.

Sorry the pictures are not nice or in a nice dish, I packed them for our next day lunch directly from the pan :)

Wish you all a nice day, till next time :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happy Nowruz ( Persian New Year)

Norouz ( or new day) is the mark of new year in Persian calenders which has been celebrated over 3000 years. It marks  the first day of spring and the beginning of the year and is celebrated at the exact time when spring starts which is usually is on March 21 or the  previous/following day. It is not only celebrated in Iran but other parts of the world like Central Asia, South Asia, Northwestern China. one of the major traditions in this time of year is to set a table ( called 7 seen ) which includes seven specific items that all starts with letter "S" in Persian alphabet. items symbolically correspond to seven elements of life Fire, Earth, Water, Air, Plants, Animals, and Human. these items are : 

  • sabzeh - wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish - symbolizing rebirth
  • samanu - a sweet pudding made from wheat germ - symbolizing affluence ( which me and my friend made this year together) 
  • senjed - the dried fruit of the oleaster tree - symbolizing love
  • sir - garlic - symbolizing medicine
  • sib - apples - symbolizing beauty and health
  • somaq - sumac berries - symbolizing (the color of) sunrise
  • serkeh - vinegar - symbolizing age and patience.

Other items on the table may include:
  • Sonbol - Hyacinth (plant)
  • Sekkeh - Coins - representative of wealth
  • traditional Iranian pastries 
  • Aajeel - dried nuts, berries and raisins
  • lit candles (enlightenment and happiness)
  • a mirror (symbolizing cleanness and honesty)
  • decorated eggs, sometimes one for each member of the family (fertility)
  • a bowl of water with goldfish (life within life, and the sign of Pisces which the sun is leaving). As an essential object of the Nowruz table, this goldfish is also "very ancient and meaningful" and with Zoroastrian connection.
  • rosewater, believed to have  cleansing powers
  • a holy book and/or a poetry book * 
It is traditional to gather around the  "7seen table" with members of family and count down to the start of new year. since the timing is not the same all the time; sometimes it is very late at night or very early in the morning which is the hardest times to stay up for new year. this year it is at Sunday at 7:20 pm EST time.  after new year it is typical to exchange gifts with close ones and visit family and friends. 

This is my last year 7seen :)

It is a major holiday in Iran, and we try to celebrate it every year here. however it does not feel like spring at all since the weather is still cold and there are bunch of snow on the floor. during these of times ,the distance from family hurts more than ever but what can we do. we celebrate the new year with our close friends and it became our tradition here. 

Happy new year my lovely readers and friends; I wish you all and your family all the best 
let's try to smile more in next year ...
let's open our minds to understand ourselves and each other 
let's be more wise, be stronger 
let's be positive ... 
I wish you new year full of love and happiness :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Creamy Shrimp Pasta

I made this last week from March issue of Chatelain magazine. it is a fast meal so perfect for supper time. so without further do here is the recipe:

250 g Fettuccine
1/4 cup salted butter ( I used the garlic flavor ones ) 
3 leeks ( white part only), chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup white wine
2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
350 g fresh or frozen peeled medium raw shrimp

First melt the butter in a large frying pan on medium heat. add the leeks and garlic. let it cook until the leeks are tender ( about 5-7 minutes). stir the flour and cook fir 2 minutes. while stirring add the wine slowly, then milk, salt and cayenne. bring it to boil and then reduce the heat. it takes about 3-5 minutes till the sauce thickens. then add the shrimp and let it cook till they turn pinkish ( about 8 to 10 minutes). 

when your shrimp is cooking, cook the pasta according to its package instructions.when it is ready drain the pasta and add it to the sauce, stirring till everything mix together.
serve them when it is warm.
The sauce itself taste and smells amazing. I would be also good to use with chicken instead of shrimp.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Recent Book read: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

I have to say this book was on my reading list for a long time and my husband bought it few months ago. but I had hard times to pick it up ( don't know why).  I knew it was on best selling books for long  and I never read reviews on it so I knew it is good but the story was a complete mystery to me. 
Finally I started it and about first 50 pages or so , it was so BORING, I was hard time to continue and  surprised about the hype around it. I asked one of my book buddy and she told me it will get good just try to pass the 100 pages of so . I'm glad I took her advice :)
From where the boring part passed the book got more and more interesting and I was hooked. I had hard times to put it down.It is a massive mystery book ,close to 500 pages but I found it to be an easy and fast read ( except for the first 100 pages where it is describing the main characters which I read carefully and also the parts about  financial scandals which was boring and  little hard for me to follow; thank God that it was not long). 
when I started to read it at the beginning sections there were phrases like how many of women get assaulted by men each year so I kind of knew what I was getting into. 
One of the main characters of the book is Lisbeth Salander ," the girl" in the title, who is my favorite character of the book, she experienced a lot of violence in her life but even though she is a victim, she is not helpless.  however her appearance is kind of boyish ( absolutely not feminine chick) which kind shows her stronger ! ( I don't know that was the point that author wanted to make). other than violence against women there are other themes in the book which were interesting.
I read somewhere that the book title in Swedish is different and they changed it to this when they translated to English and thank God for that because I personally wouldn't pick a book that named " Men who hated women". something else when I noticed people talking about is that the "girl" in the title is not a girl ( as of an age perspective) but I think because the majority of the men in the book are mid-age or older so in their eyes a 20 something women is a girl. There are 2 or 3 violence scenes in the book which were tough to read but I was warned by one of my friends about them when I started to read the book and I was happy that she told me that.   
This book really made me think about women in general and the fact that some women live in conditions that are beyond our imaginations. it shows a very ugly view of human nature; specially toward women. the fact that we are a member of a group that always have to wonder if we were treated this way because of our gender. I liked the book and when I was reading it so many people ( strangers) came to me and told me they liked it too or this is a really good book. of course like every other book there are some disappointing parts like after they solve the big mystery ( Harriet's case) where I taught everything ( the main characters and their life ) moved too fast .  
My next book is " the girl who played with fire" which is the 2nd book of "The Millenium Trilogy" by Stieg Larsson.
So what you've been reading lately that you think was interesting?!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Body Lotions & Moisturizers

I am one of those people that suffer from dry skin ( not my face , body area) and I think a lot people have that situation. unfortunately during winter times it gets worse since the air humidity is lower and if I do not take care of it sometimes I feel my skin will crack !! I am not happy with my skin in summer times either because of the sun.  So I used different body lotions, butters, oils in hopes of discovering the absolute best ones. This post is absolutely for every one since  every one can use softer skin :)
Here are some of them :) 

Most of things I tried were not moisturizing enough but for few years now I have a routine which works for my skin and here it is: 
Right after I take my shower ( before drying with towel) I put baby oil (or baby gel) all over and then put my towel and let it dry by itself. if I am in a hurry I just pat the towel to dry (not rub). I'll notice that my skin stays so moist and soft till the next day that I take a shower again. it is very simple and easy but the key point is to do it when your skin is completely wet so the oil kind of lock the moisture on your skin.
If you don't like the scent of baby oil ( even the scentless smells) here are some other suggestions that I tried and liked:

Body Shop Body Butter: all of the smells great; they have lots of scents for all the tastes. they are light and adsorbs very fast. 
Burt's Bees Naturally Nourishing Milk &Honey lotion: this is super light, absorbs very fast and smells yummy:)

Final comments: 
  • Always apply your moisturizer after shower when skin is still damp to lock in moisture.just to make sure to move somewhere safe to prevent slipping.
  • If you have dry skin you need to moisturize everyday not only when you wear skirt and tank tops ;)
  • If you moisturize your skin regularly, it will get better so make it a daily routine. 
  • Do not use hot water for your shower or baths since it strip oil and moisture out of your skin, if you have this habit; try to change it by making water less hot each time you shower and your body will get use to it. on the side note hot water also is bad for your hair so the last step before I step the shower I open cold water and stand there for few seconds ( cold water closes the hair cuticles which is very good for hair, as I heard).
Hope this was helpful to you; till next time,

Monday, March 7, 2011

Orange cake

This cake is my hubby's favorite, so he kind of requested it few days ago. so I went through my notes looking for an orange cake recipe. I had a few of them but I chose this one. It turn out to be such a delicious cake with strong taste of orange. if you are a fan of orange you would love this. so let's get down to baking:

Ingredient for the cake: 
250 grams unsalted butter
250 grams  sugar
4  eggs
Zest of an orange 
250 grams  flour
100 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup of raisins
1/2 cup of ground walnuts 

First preheat oven to 350 F and grease your cake pan or cover with baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar well, until they become light for about 4-5 minutes.then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add raisins and ground walnuts to the flour and then mix them with eggs and butter mixture and also zest and beat well. Slowly add the orange juice, mixing well. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until an inserted stick comes out clean. Leave in the cake tin for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and leave to cool on a cake rack.
This is one of my favorite cakes, as I said if you are an orange fan you would love this :) Hope you try this and  enjoy!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Clinique Review: clinique pore minimizer thermal-active skin refiner

I got this last year when I asked the saleslady "I'm looking for something that could reduce my pores" and at time I believed that pores could be minimized or disappear ! she recommended me this product (only this and nothing else). 
It is a cream with lots of micro-exfoliants which heats when it comes in contact with water ( for few seconds 5 max 10). the heat suppose to help open pores and then the exfoliants should clean them. 
So now let's talk about verdicts:
I got this product with high expectations ( since it was from Clinique and costs more than 30$), however it disappointed me big time. the product is quite thick which makes it difficult to take it out of the tube and spread it on damp face ( with dry hands). if face is not damp enough the heat does not activate so maybe it would be necessary to wet fingers and lightly message the product on face. 
For about a month and half I used it twice a week and honestly nothing happened to my pores except my skin felt soft and slightly dry afterwards ( and sometimes red and irritated). my pores on my nose area (which are the ones that I could get blackheads if not cleaned properly) did not change or cleaned. 
A few months later I was at Clinique counter and I ask the lady same thing about my pores and she again recommended me the same product and after I had started to explain to her that it did not work ,she said "oh you should get it with the pore minimizer  Instant Perfector cream and Refining lotion and use them at same time" which is another 40 something $ and I think is nonsense. 
So I stopped using it and I found much better products at better prices that could do even better job for my skin compared to this Clinique one. 
This is one of my misses from Clinique brand which  I do not recommend to anyone (big thumbs down); hope this was helpful.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Adventures of bread machine & Calzone recipe

Finally,I got my  bread machine last week. to be honest I did not buy it to make breads; we still buy breads; the main reason for it was to make dough. one of my friends bought hers around Christmastime and she made so many delicious things with it (in both food and dessert category) that inspired me to get one too. so today was the day I was home in the afternoon and installed the machine, read the manual and made my first dough with it. I used the dough to make my first Calzone ( or something similar to that ). Calzone is an Italian dish and you can think of it as pizza in a shell or hot pockets. so basically everything you use for pizza can be used here too. since the crust is the first thing you'll see ( not the inside) it is important to have perfect crust. here is the recipe that I used, and as I told you I made the dough with  bread machine. what bread machine does is mixing the ingredients very well and let it rest so the yeast can do its job. so you can use the same recipe of course but don't forget to mix it well with your hands ( good workout too) and then let it aside at warm place for about 1h30 min or so.
Let's get down to cooking, shall we!

For the crust:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2  teaspoon white sugar

For the filling, everything is optional ;)
1/2 pound shredded beef
1  onion, diced very small
2 tablespoon and tomato paste
1/2 Red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper

For crust top (mix all these together in a small bowl) :
1 egg
1 tablespoon of milk
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt

Important : yeast activates around 43-46 C (110-115 F) no more no less. If you take out the water and milk from fridge, it is better to heat them up little but not up to boiling; it is better to measure their temperature to make sure the yeast gets activated or not killed.  the water should be slightly warm but not hot, you could also test it inside of your wrist.
Direction for bread machine: 
add the ingredients as the order written above. when you want to add the yeast make a hole in the flour and pour the yeasts there. make sure the yeast does not touch the liquids. and then start the proper program in your machine.
Direction to make crust (without bread machine)
1. Place about 2/3’s of the bread flour in the bowl. Add the water and yeast. Mix it (with the dough hook from your mixer or spoon)  for about one minute to hydrate the instant yeast.
2. Add the rest of the bread flour,  olive oil, the sugar, salt, Mix for about four minutes (at medium speed or  until the dough is formed.
3. Remove the dough to a large greased bowl. Cover and let the dough rise until doubled.

For the filling:
Since you don't want to add oil to the beef, mix your onions with meat in a pan and let it cook with its own oil. after a few minutes add the rest of materials and let them cook well.

Open a dough in a size that you prefer, I made one big and 2 medium size, put one layer of cheese in the middle, on top of it put one layer of your filling and then another layer of cheese. then fold from one side to the other so it looks like a half moon.  and then brush it with the crust topping. cook it for 30-35 minutes at 350F. the top should be golden.

Final comment: As I said before you can make the filling with anything you like. you could add different kind of cheese ( mozzarella, Parmesan, ricotta,...), different vegetable and also meat.
Hope you enjoy this, can't wait to do more experiments with my bream machine

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

For Canadians only-Estée Lauder gift with purchase at The Bay

For anyone who is interested. I got the offer by email; I don't know if it is for online orders only or not. but definitely will check it out myself since I decided to try Estée Lauder double wear. 

My Hair besties series- Introduction

I am one of those people that was not very nice with their hair through the years like coloring frequently, perming, bleaching and ooh I can go on and go on ...which now make me even more sorry for them.
I have naturally straight black hair and always wanted wavy hair in some other color! so I did perm my hair 3 times and 2 of them were pretty damaging to my hair and honestly I lost so much of hair over those. last year, I started to grow my hair and kind of recovering from my last perm and kind of did succeed. I used really strong hair conditioner and hair masks frequently but a few months ago I gave up , I decided to cut my hair short and start over again ( I mean growing long). It was a sudden move and I cut about 30 cm of my hair;    but having short healthy hair is always better to have long damage ones, at least that's what I think. 
I did cut my hair again few weeks ago and I am enjoying my short hair, I got so many complements even from complete strangers  :).
Even though now I have my natural hair without any chemicals on them I still condition them frequently because by the time they grow, these will be the oldest part of my hair and they may be more fragile that the rest which cause breaking and frizzing and all other unflattering hair features. don't get me wrong I still love to change my hair style and color but I am kind of holding back on it. my hair stylist recommended to me to wait till summer and then do little high light or something, since he know what is he talking about I will listen. 
So after this long introduction I will  write about the my hair besties so far; products that I tried and still using that have done good for my hair.
So are you one of those people like mine or you don't use chemicals on your hair?!
My hair changes in less than a year, I don't have the same style as the last one now; I cut it even shorter but did not have  any picture of it :)

So till next post,