Monday, December 19, 2011

Crying it Out

I had an interesting facebook moment the other day. Is it sad that I have facebook moments? Anyways, one of my friend's put an article on how it is harmful to let your baby cry out. I responded that the only thing that worked for me was letting him cry it out. It was either that, or my sanity. Seriously. He was waking up approximately 5-6 times a night. I mentioned in a previous post that I was sleep training, and i referred to an angry bear as my current state. After a few more months, I started to look like this:

I was just exhausted. I didn't want to do anything, and whenever bedtime approached I had heart palpitations thinking about how many times I would have to get up at night and "comfort him". Because the article said we need to comfort our babies all night long or else they will become serial killers.  I decided to sleep train. It was hard. It was all out war between me and Ibby. He didn't want to sleep. He wanted me to rock him, nurse, and walk him around his room all night. As much as I love doting on my child, I needed my rest. After a week of tears and frustration, he started sleeping through the night. No more swings, swaddle, and me stumbling back and forth from my room to his. It was magical. My life changed. I brushed my hair in the morning, became a functional human being, and am occasionally social. He still wakes up sometimes, and if he cries for longer then half an hour, I go in there to see what the problem is, so I am not the devil. 

After I commented about it, a few mothers indirectly jumped down my throat. I can almost hear the tsk tsk in their voices. "What a horrible mother. I still get up with my 6 year old at night and comfort him. True, I look like I have aged 20 years, and still cannot have a decent conversation or accomplish any tasks because I'm up all night, but my baby is going to be a wonderful adult."  Sorry Dr. Sears and all you loving moms out there. But my child cried himself to sleep. Me sleeping made me a better mother for my child, so I am all for crying it out, its either that or me crying all night and all day. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Life through my almost Toddler

I haven't blogged in a while. Most of you probably think it's because I'm lazy. But the reason is ya'll is because I don't think I've cooked a good meal or read a book for a while now. When I go into the kitchen to cook, Ibby is attached to my legs nagging and crying. I basically throw together meals in under 5 minutes hoping that nothing splatters my son and that the food is edible. Everything I cook now is to accommodate my EXTREMELY picky baby. This kid is the pickiest eater ever. My nerves are frayed, and he isn't even a toddler yet. If it wasn't for bananas and oatmeal, he would probably starve.

I haven't read a good book in months. When I sit down to read, he crawls up to the couch, stands up and swats the book out of my hand. He gives me this amazed look, like "did you really think I would let you read? Are you INSANE?" He proceeds to stomp on my book.  By the time I put him to sleep at night and I sit down to read, I pass out in a semi coma.

My computer use is limited. Whenever I sit down on the computer, he crawls underneath the desk, and stands up at my chair crying for me to pick him up. If I don't, he proceeds to destroy the printer. Once he is in my lap, he slams happily at the keyboard.

Also, on a side note, I am covered in his snot 90% of the time. TMI?

My life may seem bleek to ya'll, but I am lovin it. Because even though I have no time to do anything I want to do,  I get to do lots of other fun stuff.  This age he is at is probably the most fun age. We can play, read stories, and watching him experience things for the first time is awesome. True, if I read brown bear one more time I am going to rip the book up into shreds, but he gets such a kick out of it, how can I not read it to him? So I leave you with a very simple recipe. Lentil soup, which is one of the few things my child will eat. Enjoy!

1) Two cups of red lentils
2) One chopped up carrot
3) One chopped up onion
4) One chopped up red bell pepper
5) One potato
6) 3 cups of chicken stock
7) Salt and Pepper to taste
8) One tablespoon of cumin.
8) Olive oil

This is really easy to make. Saute the onions in some olive oil, add the stock and all the veggies and lentils. Let it come to a boil, and then simmer. I usually let it boil for around an hour, and then I add the cumin, salt and pepper, and use my hand blender to mix it. After that, I just pour a little bit of olive oil on top for flavor. Ibby loves it. I usually pour some for him on top of brown rice and he eats it up.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Upside Down Rice that Will Turn Your Mind Upside Down From Awesomness

If theres one dish that has stumped me time and time again, its maqlooba. This upside down rice turns my kitchen upside down and never turns out right. I've finally conquered my Everest, and have found an easy recipe that turns out perfect maqlooba everytime.

Compliments of my grandma in Halab.

1.5 Cups of Rice presoaked for at least an hour ( I use jasmine rice, don't ruin it with uncle bens!!)
4 small eggplants, preferably chinese eggplants. ( The bigger the eggplant, the more bitter)
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup of frying oil
1 Potatoe sliced thinly
2 thinly sliced onions
1 thinly sliced tomato
1 lb of beef stew
1 tablespoon all spice
1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon of pine nuts

First, saute and cook your ground beef and set aside.

Saute your beef stew and half the onions and cover with water and some salt. You will need almost 3 cups of beef stock for the rice, so make sure you put enough water in the beef. Prepare the beef however you prepare beef stew, in the pressure cooker or on low heat for an hour and a half, until the beef is tender.

Peel and slice your eggplants. I like to keep some of the skin on for flavor. Slice them into thick slices.

Add the cooking oil to a frying pan on medium heat and fry your eggplants until they are golden.

Remove the eggplants and let them soak on a paper towel to absorb all the extra oil. Sprinkle them with
some salt: 

Take the rest of your onions and saute them in some olive oil until they are golden brown and set aside. 

Start layering your dish. I start off with the potatoes at the bottom, followed by the tomatoes and the onions. Then I interchange some rice, meat and eggplants. I mix up the layers so that the rice cooks more evenly. 

Boil the beef stock  you used to cook the meat. Add 2.5 cups of stock  with some salt and the allspice to the rice mix and let it come to a boil, then turn on medium low. Cook it the same way you would cook normal rice. I usually cook rice for 20 minutes on low. Make sure all the water is absorbed before you remove from heat. 

Saute some pine nuts in butter until they are golden brown.

Take the ground beef and mix it with the pine nuts. Put it on top of your cooked rice in an even layer. Then, flip your rice onto a plate. I usually cook mine in a round pot so I get that cake look. 

And there you have it! Maqlooba. IF your rice doesn't cook, then scoop it out, add some beef stock and put it in the oven. Or cook it in a dutch oven and put the entire pot into the oven on medium heat. The key is to have presoaked rice and to add the beef broth boiling to the rice. Enjoy! =) 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Farah Ali Beef Stir Fry

Hey friends! I haven't posted in a while, but things have been CRAZY this Ramadan. I wanted to post a quick recipe that I recently made that was D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! ( I'm spelling it out with CAPs just to emphasize how delicious it was.) I'm always on the lookout for a good stir fry recipe, and most of them are usually a big fail. But this one was great! The combo of the veggies with the beef and sauce was so yummy.The stir fry sauce had a distinct flavor that I'm always trying to emulate in my Asian dishes and fail to do so. This is by far one of my favorite stir fry recipes. Thank you Farah Ali for this delicious recipe!! =)

    • * Note on the recipe: When I made it, I used Shittake mushrooms which gave it an AMAZING flavor. Also I would add the beef first instead of the veggies, I think it would be easier to cook the beef.
      -1 bell pepper thinly sliced
      -1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
      -1/4 cup bean sprouts
      -handful of snow peas
      -(I used canned mushrooms bc I forgot to get fresh ones! so small can of mushrooms or 1/2 cup fresh)
      - 1 green onion thinly sliced
      -1/2 small sweet onion thinly sliced

      - 2 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
      - 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
      - 1 tsp honey
      - 1 tsp lemon juice
      - 1 Tbsp garlic chili
      - 3 garlic cloves, minced
      - 2 tsp cornstarch
      - I used 4 Tbsp of chicken broth bc I had some left over, you can always use water instead

      Mix the sauce ingredients together and you can always taste it and see if you need to add anything to it, it tastes a lot better cooked than just like that! lol

      Heat a skillet on medium high with 3 Tbsp canola oil once it's completely hot mix in vegetables and stir for 1 min, then add the sauce, stir for 2 more minutes, then add beef and stir for an additional 3 minutes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ich, Each, or Eych? Or Ghada Bulgar Salad? You decide.

I noticed recently that all my recipes are main courses. I happen to have some very delicious appetizers in my repertoire, so I decided to share one with you. This is a top secret super delicious Halabi recipe called "Ich". ( Pronounced EECH in Arabic.) Or, for a more normal sounding name, lets call it Bulgar Salad. This is one of my favorite salads, and it's great to make the night before for a party. I got this gem of a recipe from my mom, so we shall call it Ghada Bulgar Salad.

In Halab, there is a dish much served and loved. It is called Kibbe Nayyih, or as we in the more developed world like to call it, E-Coli on a plate. Its basically raw meat ground up with bulgar and spices. It's delicious, but you alway eat it with a risk of ending up with failing kidneys. SO eat at your own risk! This recipe stems from the same method you use to make Kibbe, minus the meat and E-coli part. Try it guys, you will  LOVE it and then thank me for it by sending me presents.

1) One cup of fine bulgar, size 1. Make sure you use most ground up one they have at the store, not the big bulky size 3 kind.
2) 6 tomatoes
3) 1/4th a cup of Pomengrate syrup " Dibs Ruman". You can find this at your local Arabic store. It is delicious and is used it a wide variety of middle eastern recipes.
4) Half a tablespoon of hot pepper paste " Dibs Flafla". This is also found at the arabic store. Don't use any other kind, unless you want it spicy. The one at the arabic store is more sweet, so it gives it a delicious flavor.
5) 3 stems of green onions.
6) One and a half white onions.
7) Half a bunch of parsley
8) Salt
9) One cup of olive oil ( Only olive oil, not vegetable oil or anything else!)

First things first. Put your bulgar in a large mixing bowl.

Take 5 of your tomatoes and dice them up and throw them in the food processor. Pulse them up until they become a liquid puree. I forgot to take a picture of this step, because Ibby decided to have a meltdown at this point.  Afterwards, take the puree and pour it on top of your bulgar, and let it soak for at least an hour. Make sure you have enough tomato puree to cover all the bulgar, if you don't, puree some more!  It should look like this:

Finely chop one of the onions, the remaining tomato, green onions, and parsley. Divide them in half. Leave one half in a bowl, and the other half in a pot with the olive oil:

Once the bulgar is done soaking, put it back in the food processor with the half onion and the red pepper paste. Pulse it. You won't see a difference in how the bulgar looks, but trust me, it makes a huge difference in the texture.

Take the pot and put it on medium low heat. Cook the veggies on the low heat until they cook down a little bit, but not completely cooked. You just want to get them soft:

After they are soft, take them off the stove and let it cool off for a minute or two. Add the bulgar, the pomegranate syrup, salt, and the other half of the veggies you chopped. Mix it all together, and Voila, your done. I like to top mine with some chopped walnuts. Refrigerate before serving, because it's meant to be eaten cold. The longer its in the fridge, the yummier it gets because it allows the bulgar to soak up all the yummy flavor.

Take it to parties and let everyone think you spent hours making this and that your the next Ina Garten minus all the butter. And then thank me.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cooking with Kids

No, this post is not about how to have fun with your little one in the kitchen. I prefer to keep little ones out of the kitchen. No, this is about how to make a decent meal when you have a screaming baby in the background. I used to post recipes and pictures as I was cooking, but those days are gone. I cook so quickly that a camera can't even catch what I'm doing. Instead, I'm going to give you some tips on how to cook when you have a baby.

1) Cook fast. Really fast.

I do everything super fast now, because most of it gets done during Ibby's nap time. I can clean a bathroom in under 12 minutes. I actually timed myself. The kitchen completely wiped down and clean in under 20. Seriously. I will probably be featured in the Guinness book of records, so keep an eye out for that.

2) Clear the kitchen before cooking.

Guys, don't start cooking with a full dishwasher and a sink full of dirty dishes. Make sure you are ready to go! The dishwasher is empty, the sink is ready for all your dishes, and the counters are clear. It makes cooking a whole lot easier when you can just stick stuff in the dishwasher and you have space to work with.

3) You are not Ina Garten anymore.

I used to have tons of fun in the kitchen. I'd experiment with recipes, make super difficult stuff, and spend hours researching new ingredients and techniques. Those days are gone. During the week I make super easy food and occasionally make something more challenging on the weekend since the hubby can take over baby duty.

4) Embrace the crock pot, stews, and Campbell's mushroom soup.

Make everything easier on yourself. Buy pre-made sauces. Make stew like there is no tomorrow. It's ok! The fact you have a home cooked meal is awesome, so who cares what you used to make it? I used to be a food snob and I'd avoid stuff like that like the plague. Now were best friends.

5) Freeze.

Cook batches of food and freeze it. Whenever you need some food and don't have time to cook and have pad thai takeout coming out of your nose, frozen food is like finding a gift in your freezer.

6) Cook in increments.

Chop stuff the night before. Prep during baby's first nap and then cook during the next. It makes life a whole lot easier.

7) Make the mother of all grocery lists.

Buy for the whole week. I live in an apartment, and my parking garage is approximately 5 miles away (It really isn't but it feels like that). The last thing I want to do is lug groceries from my car throughout the week. Buy in bulk as much as possible. Freeze meat. Sell out costco. Stock your pantry as if their is a nuclear apocalypse on the way to town.

Now, I shall leave you with a recipe I recently made that was super easy and reallly delicious. Thanks Create TV! =)

Cooks Country Lemon Chicken:
1 whole chicken (3 1/2- to 4-pounds), backbone removed and butterflied 
3 tablespoons grated lemon zest plus 1/3 cup juice from 3 lemons
1 teaspoon sugar 
Salt and pepper 
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth 
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon water 
1 teaspoon cornstarch 
3 tablespoons unsalted butter 
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley 


· 1. SEASON Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Combine lemon zest, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in small bowl. Following step-by-step, rub 2 tablespoons zest mixture under skin of chicken. Season chicken with salt and pepper and transfer to roasting pan. (Seasoned chicken can be refrigerated for 2 hours)

· 2. ROAST Whisk broth, 1 cup water, lemon juice, and remaining zest mixture in 4-cup liquid measuring cup, then pour into roasting pan. (Liquid should just reach skin of thighs. If it does not, add enough water to reach skin of thighs.) Roast until skin is golden brown and thigh meat registers 170 to 175 degrees, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and let rest 20 minutes. 

· 3. MAKE SAUCE Pour liquid from pan, along with any accumulated chicken juices, into saucepan (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). Skim fat, then cook over medium-high until reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Whisk cornstarch with remaining water in small bowl until no lumps remain, then whisk into saucepan. Simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Off heat, whisk in butter and parley and season with salt and pepper. Carve chicken and serve, passing sauce at table. 


More Lemon Flavor in Less Time Butterflying the chicken may be unfamiliar, but this surprisingly simple process makes it easier to flavor the chicken with lemon—and it speeds roasting, too.

1. Use kitchen shears to cut out the backbone. Flip the bird over and press to flatten the breastbone.

2. Carefully loosen the skin, then rub zest mixture into the breast, thigh, and leg meat.

3. Roast the flattened chicken in the lemony sauce so that its flavor can permeate the meat.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Mommy Must Haves for her Sanity List

Having a baby means more stuff. I have talked about that before. A lot of my friends asked me what stuff was necessary and what was a waste of money. I decided to make a list of all the things that helped me survive the past 6 months. Every baby is different, but I think there are a few key things everyone should have.  Enjoy!! =)

First of all, I'd like to thank my Ipad. If it wasn't for my Ipad, I would of fallen asleep and smothered my poor baby those first few months of nursing him all night. It kept me awake and entertained me. It has become my BFF. Me and the Ipad are like this. The Kindle on the Ipad has saved some of my brain cells because the rest of them have been killed my sleep deprivation and the music that baby einstein toys play.

I LOVE my stroller. Nowadays, strollers are totally a status symbol. I researched what stroller to get more then anything I have ever researched in my life. I tried the cool ones. The Orbitz Baby felt like I was pushing around an office chair, and it weighed 300 pounds. The Uppababy was soo freaking wide and heavy. In the end, I decided on my peg-perego. It is light weight, very sturdy, and not wide, so it can go through a lot of narrow places. I also make 40 million stops everytime I go out, and its easy and light to get in and out of the trunk. I Love it. Go buy it, now.
All the mamma's to be, I need to let you in on a secret. Breastfeeding really sucks the first few weeks. I know, everyone says your bounding with your child, its magical, blah blah blah. But it hurts like no other. and Your nipples pay for it. I tried the lansinoh cream the hospital gave me and ended up with Mastitis. I switched over to this stuff instead. It is AMAZING. It worked after the first application and made breast feeding more bearable. AND its organic, so your baby isn't eating chemicals.

Swaddling is recommended for newborns and young infants. Why? Because they startle themselves awake. If you swaddle them, it lessens the reflex and helps keep them asleep. Now, the aden and anais swaddle blankets are cute, but seriously, when your up in the middle of the night with a screaming baby, reswaddling him can be a tad bit hard. Thats why you should buy these premade swaddles. Just stick him in it and wrap him up. Its a snap.
A lady at a store told me to get this toy for Ibby. She told me it was amazing and kept her baby entertained for hours. Of course I bought it because I believe anything a sales clerk tells me ( much to the dismay of my husband.) BUT it actually works! I hung it on Ibby's car seat in the car, and he would just stare at it. I think the primary colors just speak to them. Now he plays with it all the time and it is one of his favorite toys.
This is a must. Its somewhere to put the baby during the day when he's awake, and you can occasionally rock the baby to sleep in it.  I love mine, and Ibby still sits in his. It has three settings, and can also be used as a rocking chair for toddlers.

Apparently babies either love or hate their bumbo seat. Ibby loves his. He plays in it all the time and reads his books like fluffy chick in it. After his 4 month appt, our ped pointed out that his head was starting to flatten and recommended we sit him up more. After he said that I made it my mission to prevent flat head, and this is one of the items that helped.
I tried the moby wrap. People swear by it. It just wasn't for me. I couldn't get it on right, and I was always afraid my baby was going to fall out. So I got this instead. Since my parking garage is 20 miles away from my apartment, this is extremely useful when I'm bringing in stuff from the car. It's also useful to put your baby in when he just wants to be held and you have 45 things to do. Try it out, you will love it just as much as I do.
I spent a lot of time planning Ibby's nursery. He's barely slept in it though. Instead, he's spent the first 6 months of his life in this pack n play, next to my bed. It's awesome. It is comfortable and best of all, it folds up really small so its easy to transport. It has gone everywhere with us and has withstood the elements.
This is by far Ibby's favorite toy. He loves it. From a young age he could grab it, the colors are appealing, and it makes a sound when you shake it. He's actually playing with it right now as I neglect him to write on my blog.

Love this swing. Only way he will nap. I know, your not supposed to let them rock to sleep, but I'm desperate. Also, the weight limit on it is 30 lbs, as opposed to most swings that are 25.

This shall do for now. I hope all these companies send me free stuff for endorsing them. =) Gluck mommies!!