Thursday, March 5, 2015

International Cooking Challenge: Brazilian Mahi Mahi Stew

After the insanity of our pipes freezing, and then spending every free day selling girl scout cookies at booths with The Girl, I have finally gotten back to our International Cooking Challenge.

Tonight, we visited Brazil with our taste buds, in the form of mahi mahi stew.  It is a stew with tomato, onion, zucchini, coconut milk, and mahi mahi.  We served it over basmati rice. 

We neglected to listen to any Brazilian music while cooking... The Boy was helping me with dishes, and really wanted to listen to Weird Al. 

We did look up a bit about Brazil, and talked about Portuguese colonization of Brazil.  I showed them some pictures from a friend of mine who just got back from a vacation in Brazil.

I don't think that we will be able to cook our planned Turkish meal until Saturday.  The Girl has a choir concert tomorrow night, and that's going to take up our evening.

As far as the meal went, The Girl liked it a lot.  She's been on a fish kick lately, so this was no surprise.  The Boy was not a huge fan of the fish, but ate it.  The Hubby ate it, but does not love coconut milk.  I loved it.  I will be bringing leftovers to lunch, and also to my mother.  She'll have it tomorrow night for dinner, and I know that she will love it.  My father cooked Brazilian food often.

Brazilain Mahi Mahi Stew
(modified from The Spiced Life)

1 Tbsp olive oil + 1 Tbsp pumpkin seed oil (or just use 2 Tbsp olive oil)
1/4 tsp paprika
1 large onion
5 medium sized tomatoes
6 cloves garlic
2 medium zucchini
1 lb mahi mahi
juice from 1 lemon
1- 14 oz can coconut milk

Cooking puree - the dark color is the pumpkin seed oil
In a large heavy pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Quarter onion and tomatoes and puree in a blender or food processor with the garlic.  Add puree to heated oil and cook for about 5 minutes.

Chop the zucchini into 1" pieces.  Add to puree and cook for about 15 minutes over medium heat, or until the zucchini is starting to get tender.

Cube the mahi mahi into pieces about the same size as the zucchini.  Add to stew, along with lemon juice and coconut milk.  Cook until mahi mahi is flaky, about 10-15 minutes and serve over basmati rice.


I have leftover for lunch, along with apple slices and a parmesan biscuit, in an Easylunchbox.

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Lunches: 3.5.15

Today's lunches are brought to you by -

What do you do when you run out of bread?

That's right... when I went to make lunches this morning, I realized that I had no bread.  Oops.  So, I made bread-less lunches.
Carrots, tomatoes, and ranch: 5g, apple slices: 4g, crackers: 6g, ham: 1g, hard boiled egg: 0g
The Boy has baby carrots, apple slices, yellow cherry tomatoes, ranch dressing, ham slices, wheat thins, and a hard boiled egg.  He has a granola bar for snack.

The Girl has baby carrots, half a kiwi, apple slices, ranch dressing, ham slices, wheat thins, and a hard boiled egg.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Lunches: 3.4.15

Back to school after break today, and hopefully back to the International Cooking Challenge this evening!  We'll resume where we left off when the pipes froze, and pick new countries soon.  I don't know if I'll be able to cook a different cuisine every night now that we are back in school (some nights call for mac & cheese, you know...), but we will do our very best!

Tomatoes & ranch: 3g, apple slices: 4g, sandwich: 45g

For lunch, The Boy has a ham sandwich, apple slices, and cherry tomatoes with ranch.  His snack is a banana (not pictured, 28g).

The Girl has a ham sandwich with guacamole on it, along with apple slices and half a kiwi.

Hopefully, we will bring you a Brazilian meal tonight!

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Friday, February 27, 2015

International Cooking Challenge: Indonesia - Sayur Bening Bayam

A nice bowl of Indonesian comfort
Last night was supposed to be our Mexican adventure... the kids wanted nothing more than tacos, no matter how much I told them that Americanized tacos are not really Mexican.
Last night's "Mexican"
I guess we'll be putting Mexico on the wheel again another time!

Just a couple of girl scout cookies - hope that our booth goes well!!

Tonight, we had picked Indonesia.  It was quite a day.  I picked up Girl Scout Cookies for The Girl's weekend cookie booth.  My car needed some serious work, which The Hubby got done.. and our water pipes are frozen, waiting for help to fix them.  It's been quite a day.  And then, I heard that Leonard Nimoy died.  I am a dyed in the wool long time Star Trek fan.  I love Spock.  I was so sad when I heard about his death, I literally started crying.

So, instead of learning about Indonesia tonight, we are watching Trouble with the Tribbles together.

On to the Sayur Bening Bayam... it's a lovely Indonesian vegetable soup.  It's very easy and quick to put together.  I had to buy some bottled water to make it, due to our current lack of running water, but other than that, there was nothing difficult about it.  It was the perfect quick meal for a night when I needed to get dinner cooked and be done with it.

The Girl and I loved it.  The Boy ate it, but did not really love it.  The Hubby had one bite and declined to eat more. I think it was the fish sauce that he didn't like.  I didn't think that the fish sauce was very strong in the soup, but it hit his palate the wrong way.  Can't win them all.

Sayur Bening Bayam
(modified from

2 shallots
1 Tbsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp ginger, finely chopped
1 1/2 c beef broth
1 1/2 c chicken broth
3 c water
1 lb carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 small can diced tomatoes
4 c (1 6-oz bag) baby spinach, coarsely chopped
2 tsp fish sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Chop shallots finely.  Heat coconut oil in a large, heavy stockpot over medium heat.  Saute shallots in coconut oil for about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Add ginger, broths, and water.  Bring to a boil.  Add vegetables and simmer for 15 minutes, or until carrots are slightly tender.  Add fish sauce and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

International Cooking Challenge: Bosnia - Bosnian Musaka

For our third foray into our International Cooking Challenge, we visited Bosnia at the dinner table.

The Boy happens to have two classmates from Bosnia, so he was particularly excited for this dinner.

He helped to pick out the recipe - a Serbian/Bosnian Musaka.  Unlike the traditional Greek Moussaka. which has layers of eggplant, Bosnian musaka is layers of potatoes with ground beef and onions.

We listened to some traditional Bosnian music (by Nada Mamula) on Spotify while cooking, and the kids enjoyed that. We read some facts about Bosnia on Wikipedia.

The only thing I can say about this recipe is that I made it in a springform pan... don't make it in a springform pan.  It overflowed and I managed to smoke out the kitchen.  Some of the milk leaked out.  This could have been better in a plain casserole.  I just wanted to make pretty layers.  Foolish idea.  It is too cold to open the windows.  We are just suffering through it.

Although from my reading, vegetables aren't huge in Bosnian cuisine, I had to add something bright to this meat and potatoes meal.  I made some sauteed cherry tomatoes.

This was a winning recipe all around.  It will be made again... in a casserole pan.

Bosnian Musaka
(modified from

1 large onion
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
10 Tbsp canola oil (divided)
3 lb yellow potatoes, peeled
1/2 c water
3 eggs
1 1/2 c evaporated milk
1/2 c milk

Preheat oven to 475 F.

Heat 5 Tbsp oil in a saute pan. Add diced onion and saute for about 5 minutes until softened.  Add ground beef and cook until browned.  Season with salt and pepper.

Layered on top of the bottom potatoes

Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice the potatoes into uniform 1/6" thick slices.  Layer half of the potatoes on the bottom of a casserole pan - this was about 3 layers of potatoes (note: do not use a springform pan!  I did, and it overflowed in the oven and made a big mess and smoked everything up... oops).  Add the ground beef mixture evenly.

Top layer of potatoes

Top with remaining potatoes, layered as before.  Brush the top the potatoes with remaining oil, then pour the water on top.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until potatoes begin to get tender.

Whisk together the milk and eggs.  Pour on top of the potatoes in the casserole dish and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until the top gets browned.  Slice when slightly cool and enjoy.

(Or, in my case, enjoy when the smoke clears)

Bosnian Musaka, a small apple, and some yogurt stars for my unch
As in previous nights, leftovers make an excellent lunch for me for the next day, packed in my Easylunchbox.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

International Cooking Challenge: Afghanistan - Lawang, Afghani Naan, and Basmati Rice

Tonight was our second journey in our International Cooking Challenge.  Our randomly chosen culinary destination for the evening was Afghanistan.

For dinner, I made Lawang - an Afghan Braised Chicken with Turmeric Yogurt Sauce, along with Afghani Naan (or Noni) bread, and basmati rice.

We did not do as well listening to music and learning lots of facts about Afghanistan as we did with New Zealand last night.  The Hubby had to leave right after dinner, so we looked some things up on Wikipedia, and enjoyed our dinner.

For the dinner, I utilized my lovely time saving kitchen tools, and made the chicken in the crockpot and the dough for the flatbread in the bread machine.

The store was out of cilantro, and The Hubby doesn't much care for it, so I used just a little parsley instead.  It is not the same flavor, I know, but I used what I had.  I left it in the recipe, because I think it would be great to add to the flavor.

This meal got just a passing grade.  The Boy did not care for the yogurt sauce.  I thought that the whole meal was good, but I like more bold flavors.  That is not anything against Afghani cuisine, but perhaps just my chosen recipes.  We all did like the naan, and the addition of black cumin seeds was nice.  I liked the stovetop cooking method, and I'm glad I got some ghee to use.  I'm sure that will find plenty of uses in my kitchen!

The rice was not made according to any real recipe - just followed the instructions on the bag of rice.  We all love basmati.

Now, for the recipes!

Lawang - Afghan Braised Chicken in Turmeric Yogurt Sauce (Crockpot recipe)
(Modified from Afghan Culture Unveiled)

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped or pureed in food processor
1 Tbsp crushed garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 c chicken or vegetable broth
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 1/2 c plain Greek yogurt
1 c chopped cilantro (I used just a sprinkle of parsley, because that is what I had, but cilantro would be wonderful.  Use it if you have it)

*This recipe requires some prep time before you can put it in the crockpot and let it go, so plan accordingly*
Pureed onions and garlic, in olive oil
Heat the olive oil in a saute pan and add the pureed onions and garlic.  Saute until well browned, about 15 minutes, stirring often.

Lovely turmeric color
In the crockpot, ready to cook
Stir in the broth, salt, pepper, turmeric, and ground coriander.  Pour into a crockpot (I used a 3 1/2 quart crockpot) and then add the chicken and stir to coat.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Before serving, take the chicken out of the crockpot and whisk the yogurt into the turmeric sauce.  Stir in the cilantro (if using).  Put the chicken back in the sauce and serve.


Afgani Naan Bread (bread machine)
(Modified from Culinary Adventures with Camilla)

1 1/2 c water
1/4 c olive oil
4 c flour
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp black cumin seeds
2 1/4 tsp yeast

2 Tbsp ghee or vegetable oil

Place all ingredients except for ghee (or vegetable oil) into a bread machine.  Set to dough setting and allow to run through second rise.

Remove dough from bread machine and separate into 16 small balls.  Cover with a cloth and allow to rest for 15 minutes.  Roll each ball out onto a floured surface into a thin oblong shape.  Prick each disc of dough a few times with a fork (I have this handy dandy little fork that I use for such things).

Oh, ghee!

Beautiful flatbreads
Melt ghee, 1/2 tsp at a time, in a large heavy skillet (I used a cast iron skillet).  Cook naan, 1-3 at a time (depending on the size of your skillet) over medium high heat, about one minute on the first side, then flip and cook until nicely browned.  Repeat for the remaining naan, adding more ghee each time.

Place in a cloth covered bowl or basket until serving.


Mmmmm... lunch!

As before, I have a nicely packed lunch full of leftovers from this meal.  I love packing a lunch that makes me excited for my lunch break,

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Mom's Lunch: 2.24.15

The kids are on break this week.  It's The Hubby's Day off.  The bonus?  I get all the leftover Kumara from our culinary trip to New Zealand to myself for lunch.

I have leftover Kumara with grapes and cherry tomatoes, packed in my trusty Easylunchbox.  I am so looking forward to lunch!

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