Sunday, March 8, 2009

Tunisian Almond Pastries

One thing I miss from Tunisia is the pastries. They were so rich and so good! They often use nuts in their pastries, and that is the main ingredient here. I'm not sure of the name in Arabic, I think it's kaaber louz, and in French they are Boulettes aux amandes. I like the flavor - it reminds me a lot of sugar cookie dough. We have a 3 pound bag of almonds, so I decided to make some and was pleased by how quick and easy they are! Ideally, you should use blanched almonds for a lighter flavor and color, but regular ones worked fine, too. A common practice is to either cover the outside in nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, or pistachios) or to color 1/3 of the dough red, 1/3 green, and to roll bits of all 3 together to make multi-color balls. If you blanch the almonds yourself, it will definitely take you longer to make these!

Tunisian Almond Pastries
Serves: 6-8

1 1/2 cups almonds
1 2/3 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons water (for more authentic taste, use rose water or orange flower water)

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water

- Combine syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the dough.
- For the dough: Powder almonds in a food processor (blender might work, but do just part at a time.) In a bowl, combine almonds and powdered sugar. Add water a tiny bit at a time, stirring to blend. You want the dough to barely cling together, and you may not need the whole 2 tablespoons. Form the dough into balls about the size of a tablespoon.
- When syrup has thickened remove from heat (about 10-15 minutes - when boiling, the bubbles stay on the surface for a second and look almost soapy).
- Coat each ball in syrup. You can stop there, or then roll in chopped nuts to coat. You can eat right away, or let sit for an hour to firm up more. Should last for 1-2 weeks in an air-tight container.

Here's the first batch I made, too. They weren't quite as pretty.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Homemade Pita chips

I like pita bread. I like pita chips. I don't get why 6 oz of pita chips should cost me more than 5 whole pitas (12 oz.) These are really good chips, and go well with any dip, though I like them with my yogurt hummus or, like I'll do today, with guacamole. I use whole wheat pitas because I like the flavor, but any kind will work.

Pita Chips
Serves: 4

4 whole pitas
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 425. Cut each pita in half. Split the halves of the pita (like where the pocket would usually be) and spray each side lightly with oil. Cut each piece into 3-4 chip-size triangles.* You will have 12-16 triangular chips from each pita. Spread out onto a baking sheet in one layer. Bake in 425 degree oven on top rack for about 3 minutes. Stir chips around, and bake an additional 2-3 minutes, until brown in spots. VERY important to watch these as they can quickly go from almost-done to burnt.

*If your time is more important to you than uniform chips, bake the large sections and break them up by hand afterwards.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tuna melts

Simple? Maybe. But they seem sooo much fancier than just a tuna sandwich with cheese. I don't mix the tuna with anything before putting it on the bread to give it a more delicate flavor. It also means that it doesn't stick together the same way as a traditional tuna melt, so to make it more kid-friendly, mix in a couple tablespoons of mayo, dijon mustard, or salad dressing. We eat ours with tomato & red pepper soup.

Tuna melts
Serves: 2-3 people per can Prep time: about 20 minutes (depends on size of pan and number of sandwiches)

1 can tuna
1 medium tomato
2 slices cheese per sandwich (I like pepperjack)
2 slices bread per sandwich
Cooking Spray

- Turn a large frying pan, skillet or flat stove-top grill to medium-low heat.
- Open and drain can of tuna. Stir in mayo, etc. if you wish.
- Slice tomato into thin slices.
- Spray pan with cooking spray, place bread in single layer in pan. Spray top sides with cooking spray. Let cook 2-3 minutes, until bottom side is light brown.
- Turn over one slice of bread per sandwich. Place 2 slices of cheese on bread and top with 1/2 or 1/3 of can of tuna and tomato slices.
- Put the other slice of bread on top, making sure that the side browned in the pan is facing the tomato & tuna. Let cook for 2-3 minutes, until bottom side golden brown.
- Flip and cook and additional 2-3 minutes, until final side is golden brown.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Thick Chicken Chili

I made this in my little crockpot, so it ended up being much more chicken-y than I expected. A smaller chicken breast could be good, or just plan to put it on top of rice, noodles, or tortillas. This was quicker than I expected, and when I put in the info, the protein in this is insane!

Thick Chicken Chili
Hands-on time: 15 min Cook time: 7+ hours
Serves: 3-4

1 chicken breast, thawed and trimmed
1 (14-16 oz) can diced tomato, with juice
1 (14-16 oz) can kidney beans, drained (but not rinsed)
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
Toppings (optional - cheese, chopped onion, plain yogurt/sour cream)

- Put all ingredients into crock pot. Stir. Plug in and cook on low at least 7 hours. I left mine for 9.
- Before serving, stir to break up chicken into small pieces.

Nutrition info (for 1/4 recipe): Cal: 466 Fat: 3.1g Carbs: 73g Protein: 39g