Orange Salad with Celery & Raisins

I simply can’t get enough of oranges when they’re at their peak. When I was a child, my father used to drive us to his friend’s orange grove and we would come back with large crates filled with the best navels, clementines and mandarins I’ve had in my life. Moroccan citrus is among the best; if you ever get a chance to visit, you ought to taste some.

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Healthy Homemade Chocolate Spread + Giveaway

I’ve eaten so many different brands of chocolate spread in my life, I can hardly remember the names. A few that I still recall from growing up in another country are Nusticao and Nocilla (pronounced noceeya). The half dark half white chocolate kind was always in our pantry, and as a kid I faithfully went for the white because it was sweeter. Now even the dark is too sweet for me. How times have changed.

This recipe is for all the Nutella lovers out there who would rather have a healthier, less cloying version. It is such an easy treat and made with quality ingredients. The only trouble you’ll have is keeping away from it.

P.S. I took the pictures while the chocolate was still warm but it does thicken into a rich, perfectly spreadable pâte à tartiner after a few hours.

 

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Angel Food Muffins

Central Florida is flat except for a few areas. A couple dozen miles west of Orlando you start seeing some elevation, and it is such a refreshing sight it makes you slow down your car to admire the contrasting scenery. On top of one beautiful hill near Clermont lies the only winery in the vicinity. A charming estate named Lakeridge that produces different varieties of Muscadine grapes and presses mostly sweet and semi-dry wines.

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Rosemary Strawberry Lemonade

I was never interested in gardening until recently. I am now obsessed with it. I’ve planted basil, rosemary, thyme, mint, dill, tomatoes, scallions, strawberries and a lemon tree. My garden keeps on expanding, and I’ve already developed a few gardening rituals: biweekly weeding, every other day watering, and of course, daily talking and TLC.

I can’t wait to be able to make lemonade from homegrown lemons but my lemon tree is still in the baby stage. The herbs, however, are already thriving. The mint has expanded from a few tiny sprigs to a bushy shrub that almost fills an entire extra large pot. The rosemary and basil are so fragrant, I can’t pass by without stopping to take a whiff.

I snipped a few sprigs of rosemary to make lemonade. The rosemary flavor was gorgeous but subtle enough that it left room for the strawberries to shine. It was so refreshing.

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Moroccan Potato Fritters (Maakouda)

These potato fritters are a super popular Moroccan street food. They are zesty. Quite zesty. I used plenty of cayenne pepper to season them, and I think you’ll love me for that. I fried them until crunchy and served them with a generous squeeze of lime juice. They’re also wonderful with a side of yogurt sauce.

Do give them a go.

xo

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Stuffed Chard Leaves

 

My extended leave from work has provided ample opportunity for introspection and questioning of priorities, which has greatly shuffled my cards. Things that were important at one point are slowly making it to the back burner. Others that were once neglected or put on hold for whatever reason are suddenly making it to the forefront. I’m no longer interested in empty words or mindless actions.  Fluff just doesn’t do it for me anymore. Am I becoming overly realistic? I don’t know. Am I growing? Possibly.

 

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Baked Red Quinoa with Swiss Chard & Feta

Spring Break may be just starting in your part of the world, and I hope you are enjoying this time to soak in all the beauty and renewal the season comes with. I hope you are catching up on family time, cooking up a homemade meal or two, or simply setting aside everything and taking the time to just be. For us Spring Break happens a little early but also ends a little too soon — it was over last Sunday. It never seems to last long enough!

 
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Meat & Bulgur Patties

After I made this salad, I had plenty of bulgur, mint and cilantro leftover, and so thought I would use them to make meat patties. Bulgur is traditionally used in meat patties in many Mediterranean countries; it adds a nice texture and acts like bread or breadcrumbs in soaking up juices and keeping ground meats moist. Lamb yields very flavorful patties but ground turkey or beef will be delicious as well.

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Bulgur Salad with Asparagus, Mint & Feta

I’m enjoying spring very much. Nature’s creative energy is felt everywhere and my appetite for creating new dishes is not spared. I’m in the mood for cooking with vegetables, herbs and pretty much everything fresh and green.

I bought some thin, crisp asparagus and a few fragrant bunches of mint and cilantro, and set out to make this salad. I poured boiling water over the bulgur and let it swell up (It doesn’t need to be cooked, isn’t that wonderful?), chopped and lightly sauteed the vegetables, added herbs add feta cheese, and tossed the salad.

And voilà, lunch was ready to enjoy.

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Cauliflower Steaks + Chickpea & Fruit Salad

Nowhere in Florida is spring felt more than in the annual Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot. Incredible flower art, herb beds, and vegetable gardens keep getting a little more colorful, a little more extensive, a little more creative every year. The bonus this year is kiosks of garden-inspired little plates in every country. The mouthwatering selection includes vegetable lasagna primavera in Italy, savory bread pudding with peas and mushrooms in Germany, fruishi (fruit sushi) in Japan, a local watermelon & feta salad in Florida and so much more.

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