Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto and Cheese Panini

Hello everyone,

Here is the first recipe I promised you on Father's Day. Recently, my sister and I went to Panera Bread. She had a tomato and cheese panini while I got a pecan roll... Umm yeah, I gave my mom the pecan roll and ate half of my sister's panini. And then I just could not stop craving more so I had to create my own recipe for it. I think I can safely say that these paninis come pretty darn close to the one I had at Panera Bread.

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto and Cheese Panini
Makes 15-20 panini halves

2/3 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons of oil from the tomato jar
1/3 cup black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped 
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons salt
garlic salt and garlic powder for flavoring
1 loaf of thinly sliced sourdough bread
1 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch slices OR 3-4 cups grated mozzarella
2 fresh, sliced tomatoes (optional)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing 

Process the sun-dried tomatoes, oil, black olives, pine nuts, garlic, basil, oregano, pepper, salt, and seasoning in a food processor until the ingredients have turned into a paste with a slightly chunky texture.

Spread a tablespoon of the mixture on each slice of sourdough bread and top one slice with around 3-4 tablespoons of grated cheese or one slice of cheese. I also put a little Parmesan cheese on the other slice of bread to suit my personal taste. Feel free to add or subtract from this recipe to suit your own tastes. Place two or three slices of tomato on to the cheese. Press the other slice of bread to complete the panini and brush olive oil on the top.

Grill the panini on both sides until lightly browned. You can also use a panini maker or a sandwich maker with a grill option like I did for the same effect. Slice the panini diagonally across the grilled lines and serve immediately.


Monday, June 18, 2012

On Father's Day

Hello everyone!

Yesterday was Father's Day. Normally, we wouldn't celebrate but this one was extra special because my grandpa was with us! My grandpa lives in Pakistan so its a rare day when we have three of our "dads" in the home (grandpa, dad, and uncle). So we held a little celebratory breakfast.

Yeah, we had a lot of things going on...
To the best dad in the world: You are awesome and I don't know what I'd do without you. My dad got a pretty awesome father's day present yesterday -- my sister graduated from college -- so I don't think I need to say much more.

I will be sharing a couple of the recipes I made on this day with you all in the next couple of days: Sun-dried Tomato Pesto and Cheese Paninis and Coffee and Walnut Battenberg. :) Until then,

KFC-Style Baked Chicken

Hello everyone!

Family gatherings usually mean a feast of some sort. This time, my uncle was coming over for dinner, so we decided we would have a KFC dinner. Now, because of religious dietary restrictions, plus my mom being somewhat a health-nut, we don't eat at KFC. That means we had to make the KFC-style dinner ourselves. So today, I am sharing with you my family's take on KFC-style chicken.

Oh, and I do apologize for the lack of good pictures. Late at night = bad lighting = bad pictures. Sorry.

KFC-Style Baked Chicken
Serves 12

1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste (freshly ground ginger and garlic)
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon salt
12 chicken leg quarters with skin
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 tablespoons salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon white pepper
1 tablespoon powdered red chilli pepper
6 eggs
Marinate the chicken legs with the ginger-garlic paste, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of salt and leave for 1 hour - overnight.
Grease a foil-lined baking sheet and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and beat the eggs in a separate large bowl.

Roll a chicken piece in the flour mixture until it is fully coated. Brush off any extra clumps of flour. Dip the chicken leg in the beaten egg and once again roll it in the flour mixture until it is fully coated. Dust off any clumps of flour again or they will still be on the chicken once it is baked.

Repeat these steps until all of the chicken pieces are covered in flour and on the tray. Bake the chicken in the oven until it is golden brown (around 40-45 minutes).


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Spinach Cheese Swirls

Hello everyone!

School is over, summer is finally here, and I can breathe, bake, and blog again! I have loads of foods planned to try out in the summer and I'm super excited to share them with you.

The first thing I want to share with you is my mother's recipe for spinach cheese swirls. I'm pretty sure I've already bragged about how amazing my mother's cooking is on this blog before, but this recipe is definitely one that takes the cake. Sadly, I don't have pictures of me making the filling for these pastries but I will give you a recipe below. The assembly part is easy-peasy!

Spinach Cheese Swirls 
Makes around 45 swirls

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1lb fresh baby spinach
8 oz feta cheese
1/2 cup cream cheese
crushed red pepper as desired
a box of puff pastry sheets

Fry onions and garlic in heated oil until the onions become translucent. Mix in the baby spinach, cheeses, and crushed red pepper. Stir on high heat until all of the liquid from the spinach evaporates and the mixture becomes a thick paste. There is no need to add in salt because the cheeses already have a large amount of their own sodium but you can add any other spices to suit your taste. Once the mixture has turned into a chunky paste, set it aside to cool.

Now onto the swirl part.

Simply defrost the pastry sheets (we will be using both) and lay them out onto a cutting board. Spread the mixture onto the sheets leaving half an inch of the longer ends uncovered. We're going to roll the pastry sheet up lengthwise so leave the sheet out hot-dog style. Carefully roll the pastry sheet up to the top. Wet the uncovered edge of pastry sheet so it sticks to the roll before you close it up, or you can pinch the seams shut. Turn your roll seam-side down on the board and pop it in the freezer for around 10 minutes or until it firms up a bit.

Once the rolls have firmed up, its time to cut them. Gently cut half inch slices using a serrated knife and lay them flat on a tray. You should get 20-24 swirls from each roll. At this stage, you can freeze them and then store them in a bag until you need them. They can last for a very long time once frozen.

If you want to eat these yummy swirls right away, lay them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper with an inch of space all around each swirl. Bake them at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until they become slightly browned. The center will still be soft but that's the best part!

Enjoy! Let me know how your swirls turn out. :)

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