Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe

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When it comes to food, I’m generally a purist. I prefer a classic mac and cheese with a fabulous creamy cheddar as opposed to the  countless varieties on trendy menus with numerous add-ins like artichokes, spinach and feta, or herbed truffle oil.

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My Star Wars/Lego cake – all the bling but without the zing😦

With cakes I am the same way. Nothing like a luscious chocolate cake with a rich chocolate ganache topped with some fresh sliced strawberries to brighten my day. But somehow, I lost my way from the simple path. It hit me while I was removing the hardened candy melts out of the Lego molds and sticking on (inedible!) Darth Vader heads on my son’s birthday cake. Where were the all natural ingredients and simple garnishes? What I had before me was some flashy frosted thing that was admittedly pretty fun, but somehow fell flat.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for trying new foods and cuisines and experimenting with new flavor profiles and combinations. But sometimes it isn’t about adding all the new bells and whistles, but instead just keeping it simple and celebrating each ingredient. One of my favorite cakes is a pineapple upside down cake. You won’t find it on the dessert menu of the hottest new restaurant in town, but it never fails to please. Enjoy it warm after taking it out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or take it to almost any occasion (barbecue, potluck, baby shower) for an elegant and delicious dessert. I have tried many pineapple upside down cake recipes, but this is seriously the best one since it has a thin layer of cake providing the optimum topping to cake ratio. Hope you love this as much as I do!

Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe

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Ingredients

For the topping:

  • 50g softened butter
  • 50g light soft brown sugar
  • 7 pineapple rings in light syrup, drained with 2 tablespoon syrup reserved
  • fresh pitted cherries (can use frozen cherries too if not in season)

For the cake:

  • 100g softened butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon reserved
  • 2 eggs

Note: You really need to get a scale for this recipe to ensure perfect and consistent results, but you can also try and use conversions from here.

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. For the topping, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Spread over the base and a quarter of the way up the sides of a 9inch/20-21cm round cake tin. Arrange pineapple rings on top, then place cherries around the rings.
  2. Place the cake ingredients in a bowl and, using an electric whisk or mixer, beat to a soft consistency. Spoon into the tin on top of the pineapple and smooth it out so it’s level. Bake for 35 mins. Leave to stand for 5 mins, then turn out onto a serving plate. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.

NYC Style Street Cart Chicken and Rice Recipe

New York City is the city that never sleeps, and luckily for me, is the city that never stops eating. No matter who you are, or what you want, you can definitely find it in NYC.  I remember randomly going through a shrimp cocktail phase. I loved the fact that I could come home after a night out,  order it from our neighborhood diner, and have it promptly delivered in the middle of the night. No questions asked.

We always had our “go to” places for our after-hours cravings. Some of our faves were our favorite Margarita slice in the East Village, or falafels from Mamoun’s, but the meal that always hit the spot was the halal street cart chicken and rice. Warm buttery rice with grilled spicy chicken and the famous white sauce doused on top, accompanied by an unassuming iceberg lettuce salad on the side, was the perfect end to a perfect night.

After moving across the country, I did manage to find the street cart chicken in downtown San Francisco, and we also got the Halal Guys in the bay area (yay!). Ironically it wasn’t difficult to find my chicken and rice dish, but the most elusive element was finding the time to go! Luckily I found this recipe that inspired me to make my own version at home. Remember, similar to how each cart has their own flavor and personalization of their spice mix to their dish, feel free to adjust the spices to your own taste!

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NYC Style Street Cart Chicken and Rice Recipe

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1- 1.5 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat (6 to 8 thighs)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil (for frying)

For the rice:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups Basmati rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water or chicken broth
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (or less)
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2  teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve (optional):

  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 1 large tomato, cut into wedges
  • Fluffy pocketless pita bread, brushed in butter, lightly toasted, and cut into 1 × 3-inch strips
  • Harissa-style hot sauce
  • chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Method:

1.  Marinate the chicken: Combine the lemon juice, oregano, coriander, garlic, and olive oil in a blender. Blend until smooth. Season the marinade to taste with kosher salt and black pepper. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place the chicken and marinade in a bowl and mix, making sure chicken is coated.  Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat the oil in a 12-inch heavy-bottomed cast iron or stainless-steel skillet over medium-high heat until it is lightly smoking. Add the chicken pieces and cook without disturbing until they are lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes per side.  Transfer the chicken to a casserole dish. Cover and cook in oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, take out and put on counter to cool, keeping lid on.

3. Make the rice:  Melt the butter over medium heat in a large Dutch oven. Add the turmeric and cumin and cook until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the rice and stir to coat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is lightly toasted, about 4 minutes. Add the water (or chicken broth if using). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes without disturbing. Remove from the heat and allow to rest until the water is completely absorbed and the rice is tender, about 15 minutes.

4. While rice and chicken are cooking, make the sauce. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, and black pepper. Whisk to combine. Season to taste with salt. Set aside.

5. To serve: Place chicken on cutting board and cut into small pieces. Take rice and arrange on plate. Top with chicken, white sauce, hot sauce, and chopped cilantro (if desired).  Serve with  chopped iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and pita on the side if desired.

Enjoy!

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Easy Homemade Almond Milk

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As much as I love dairy, in the back of my mind I knew I had to let it go. The immense joy from consuming some of my favorite foods like towering ice cream sundaes, melty baked brie, and creamy lattes was becoming shorter and shorter lived. (Not to mention my clothes were becoming tighter and tighter!)

I decided to take some action on improving my diet and a friend told me about the Whole30 which encourages eating non-processed food and bans many foods that cause inflammation. One of the things it tells you to give up is dairy. I figured the milk in my daily lattes was the main culprit and decided to switch it out. But I couldn’t stomach drinking black coffee though. I wasn’t a fan of coconut, soy, or rice milk, but was delighted to find out I loved almond milk. But then the Whole30 bans carrageenan (which is a plant extract food companies use as a thickening agent) which was of course included in the only brand of almond milk I liked.

I decided if I am embracing non-processed foods, I might as well try making it myself. Most homemade almond milk recipes used phrases like “soak overnight” or “peel 1 cup of almonds” and other work intensive words that a busy mama does not have time for. Instead, I found an easy shortcut version using just a few ingredients. And the best part is not only does it save you money, but it tastes better than packaged almond milk too. You will love it!

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All you need to make delicious almond milk – dates, almond butter, and vanilla extract. Just add water!

Easy Homemade Almond Milk Recipe 

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I have just blended this – so it is still frothy and you can see the little grainy bits. They will soon settle to the bottom. You can strain them with a nut milk bag if you wish.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 Tablespoon Almond Butter (I grind my own but you can use store bought as well)

2 Pitted Dates

1/2- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

4 Cups Water

Method:

1. Place all ingredients in blender (I used my Vitamix) and blend. (usually 30 seconds or so – it will be all frothy or milky.

2. Chill in fridge and enjoy. (There are some grainy bits from the dates, so you can strain it with a nut milk bag if you want, but it is sooo small and settles to the bottom so that it does not bother me. Plus extra fiber!) Almond milk keeps in fridge for 3 days or so.

Spaghetti Squash “Pad Thai”

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I am not a cold weather person. I love sun and warmth and frolicking on warm sandy beaches. But now it is winter. Initially I was shivering under my down comforter waiting for the sun to come back, but slowly I have come to appreciate certain things about the cold season. I love feeling the crunch of leaves under my new boots while walking on the sidewalk, the sound of crackling sparks from the logs in the fireplace, and curating my ever expanding winter wardrobe of gorgeous scarves and coats and sweaters. But most of all, I love to eat all the “comfort food” that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Things like hot chocolate with melty marshmallows, hearty meaty stews, creamy soups in flaky bread bowls, and any big bowl of pasta with plenty of sauce. Unfortunately every food I am craving is a giant carbohydrate overload. I am living in paleo, gluten free, vegan, low-carb California, and eating all the typical comfort food is often looked upon with judgement from my fellow health conscious Californians. Luckily there are alternatives. Instead of eating spaghetti and meatballs, I can use spaghetti squash for the pasta which several of my paleo friends have been advocating for some time now. To be honest, it does look like spaghetti and meatballs, but it definitely does not taste like it. My comfort food seeking side was not too happy with this substitution. I just couldn’t mess with a classic.

But actually,  my paleo peeps were on to something. I like the idea of substituting the spaghetti squash for noodles: Low-carb and an additional serving of vegetables (win-win!).  I needed another option besides a tomato based sauce, and found a recipe with a peanut sauce and Asian flavors similar to Pad Thai.  I also loved the crunch of the crushed peanuts and the option to add any other vegetables such as chopped red peppers or vegetable sprouts. In fact, I liked this dish so much that I am considering buying a spiralizer to make noodles out of zucchini. But will be saving that for another winter day though…

Spaghetti Squash “Pad Thai” Recipe

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INGREDIENTS

For Squash:

  • 2 medium spaghetti squash
  • olive oil
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley or cilantro
  • ¼ cup crushed peanuts **Note: Blend in food processor. Do not leave this ingredient out, it adds nice crunch and texture

For Peanut Sauce:

  • 1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
  • ⅔ cup natural, unsweetened peanut butter **Note: You could probably use regular peanut butter, but if you do, omit the sugar/agave
  • ¼ cup sugar or agave
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon Sri Racha chili sauce (optional)

METHOD:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Half the squash and scoop out the seeds.

2. Drizzle inside with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place spaghetti squash cut side down on a baking sheet lined with foil and roast for 45 minutes or until soft.

3. Remove squash from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Take fork and scoop out the squash. It should come out in little strands that look like noodles. Set aside.

4. While squash is roasting, place all sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Then turn down to low and simmer for 5 minutes while stirring almost constantly.

5. After sauce thickens a bit, take off heat and set aside. (I liked mine on the thicker side so let it cook for awhile longer).

6. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add olive oil.  Add minced garlic, and cook for a minute. Add spaghetti squash, ½ -¾ cup of the peanut sauce pan, chopped cilantro, crushed peanuts. and combine. Stir to combine and cook until heated through (about 2 minutes).

7. Plate and garnish with a little more crushed peanuts and chopped cilantro. Can also add some bean sprouts or other vegetables if desired. Add more sauce if needed. Serve immediately.

Yield: 3-4 servings as main (5-6 as a side)

Based on this recipe from Leelalicious.

Fruity Chia Seed Pudding

20140821_091601_1Growing up in America in the 1980’s, if you heard the name “chia” you would automatically associate it with Chia Pets, which were terracotta pots shaped like animals. The concept was to rub moistened chia seeds on the pot and after awhile, they would sprout and grow chia “fur” on the pet.

Remember this?

chiapet I never thought that decades later I would see chia seeds in my kitchen again. Thanks to their high nutritious content (being packed with fiber, protein, and omega 3 fatty acids among others), chia seeds’ popularity grew and are a household name once more. I especially love them in smoothies or my favorite: chia seed pudding.

So easy, delicious and nutritious…try it for breakfast today! Ch-ch-ch…Chia!

Fruity Chia Seed Pudding

20140822_090723_1Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds

½ cup almond milk

1 teaspoon agave syrup (optional, to taste)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Toppings Ingredients:

Option 1: ½ cup blueberries and raspberries

Option 2: 1 small diced mango and 1 tablespoon pistachio nuts

Method:

  1. Add in bowl the night before eating: Chia seeds, almond milk, vanilla and agave if using. Mix well.
  2. In morning, mix chia pudding and top with any topping you like such as berries or nuts.

Notes: Makes 1 serving. Easy to double. Great make-ahead recipe for busy mornings.

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Chocolate Avocado Truffles

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In parenting, some moments you just want to last forever. And others you just want to forget. The funny thing is that the line between the two is often blurred.

This week my two little boys made me this beautiful heart “sculpture” with their toy cars while arguing over who loved me more. I must say I was enjoying the conversation. At least initially. It went something like this:

20140812_124640_1– I love mommy.

– No I love mommy more!

– Well I love mommy’s hair. It’s so pretty!

– Well I love mommy’s tummy. It’s sooo soft. Just like a big pillow!

Hmmm…not the best comparison I thought, but I didn’t want to lose this loving moment we were sharing. So I justified it to myself…I mean, who doesn’t like a nice comfy pillow?

But the conversation was on a downward spiral and there was nothing I could do to stop it. It completely hit bottom when my younger one chimed in, “Awww I love it! It looks like there is a baby in mommy’s tummy!”.

And just like that, happy mommy time was officially over.

Actually I am thankful for my little guy’s astute observation of my waistline, for he forced me to realize I need to get back to my healthy eating habits which are currently on hiatus thanks to summer vacation.

Every summer we come to California to see my family and I always go overboard with all the yummy food. Vacation for me means no schedule and over indulging in everything. (Mint chocolate chip ice cream at 1am? Why yes I will have 3 scoops please!) In just 4 weeks I have seen the scale steadily creep higher and higher and my tummy get bigger and dare I say, more pillow-like.

So I decided to compromise. I will add more vegetables and make healthy choices but not deprive myself. And that is when I discovered avocado chocolate truffles. Yes, that is correct… Avocado Chocolate Truffles! All the nutrients in avocados plus all the antioxidants in dark chocolate combine to make a decadent and arguably healthy, treat. Although I won’t be on vacation forever, these truffles let me feel like I always am!

CHOCOLATE AVOCADO TRUFFLES

20140814_181344_1INGREDIENTS:

6-8 oz (Almost 1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips (or use dark chocolate if you want less sweet)

½ cup mashed avocado (about 1 small avocado)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup cocoa powder, for coating. *Substitute any other coating such as ground almonds or pistachios, coconut or chocolate sprinkles

METHOD:

  1. Melt chocolate on stovetop or in microwave. Be careful not to burn.
  2. Mash avocado and vanilla with fork or handheld stick blender until smooth. (I prefer to use the hand blender so it is completely smooth)
  3. Mix avocado mixture and chocolate together with spatula and cool in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or until firm.
  4. Scoop out bite size pieces on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll each piece into a ball and drop into bowl of cocoa powder. Roll around to coat. ( Instead of cocoa powder, you can use shredded coconut or chopped pistachios, rainbow sprinkles or anything you like.) Store in the refrigerator, but you can eat them at room temperature.

Pantry Diva Notes:

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Use a handheld blender to get the avocado really smooth

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Mix the avocado, vanilla, and chocolate well before chilling in refrigerator.

**By the way, these are super easy to make and fun to make with the kids! Just try not to eat them all at once!

Recipe inspired by the Detoxinista

Rolled a few truffles in rainbow sprinkles which were a big hit for the kids.

Rolled a few truffles in rainbow sprinkles which were a big hit for the kids.

Restaurant Review: Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar

I am one of those people who get intense food cravings, and cannot be satisfied until my craving is fulfilled. Just yesterday, I needed to have baked brie with green apple slices.  And the day before, it was red velvet cake (specifically the red velvet with cream cheese frosting, not the whipped cream frosting). My food cravings happen pretty often, but the thing I crave for the most is by far: chocolate.

The urge to eat chocolate strikes unexpectedly at any given time, and this time happened as I was at Mall of the Emirates.  Just as my chocolate craving hit, I looked up to see a restaurant called Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar. With the word Chocolate in the title, I knew I couldn’t  go wrong.

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I walked inside and noticed their bright interiors, smiling staff, and delicious chocolate displays, and had a good feeling I was in the right place. There was ample seating and we immediately got our menus and started perusing what chocolatey goodness to order.

After flipping through the pages complete with mouth watering pictures, my chocolate craving was on overdrive and we decided to order dessert first.  First to arrive was the molten chocolate cake, a warm moist cake with chocolate syrup and served with vanilla ice cream. I felt pure bliss as my spoon pierced into the cake and released the steam and chocolate syrup inside.

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The next dessert to arrive was the chocolate fondue, a chocolate dipping sauce served with fresh berries, brownies and bananas. The fondue was not only delicious but also fun to eat!

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Dinner time was approaching, so I decided to stay and eat there.  In  addition to the many chocolates and desserts on offer, there is also a selection of savory foods such as salads, pastas, sandwiches and more.  I was a bit hesitant to eat anything but dessert as I always thought of Chocolate Bar as a dessert place only,  but the staff recommended the tagliatelle pasta and I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived. It was creamy and flavorful, with grilled chicken, veggies, and chopped herbs, and although it wasn’t amazing, it was tasty.

In addition to the menu, there is also a range of chocolates and truffles, gift boxes, candy bars, and other fun paraphernalia such as t-shirts available for purchase.

I finished my meal off with a cappucino, content that my chocolate craving was satisfied…until next time!

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Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar has several locations in Dubai including Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Mall, Mirdif City Center and Mercato Mall.  For a full list of locations and more information check here

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Disclaimer: I was a guest of Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar.

Thai Stir Fried Beef and Vegetables with Coconut Rice

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When I literally have no time to make anything, I often make hamburgers.  Just season the ground meat, form it into patties, cook it on the grill, stick it in between two buns, add some cheese and condiments and voila! Dinner is served! A perfect easy meal.

But sometimes the perfect meal doesn’t fit into life’s social schedule. This weekend I was in a total dinner dilemma as we went to a barbecue the day before and were invited for another one the day after.  Not only was I sandwiched in between two hamburger events, but also had chicken burgers at a birthday party earlier in the day.

Then evening rolled around, the kids were starving, and I had to do something with the ground beef that was staring at me from the refrigerator.  I needed a non-burger solution.  I found this Thai inspired beef dish online and it really hit the spot. I would not say this is an authentic Thai recipe, but it is easy, fast, delicious and does not resemble a hamburger…a perfect easy meal!

Thai Stir Fried Beef and Vegetables with Coconut Rice

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INGREDIENTS:

1 1/4 cups jasmine rice or basmati rice

1 can (14.1 ounces/ 400ml) coconut milk

Coarse salt

2 tablespoons fish sauce (can use less, to taste)

2 tablespoons soy sauce (can use less, to taste)

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 garlic cloves, chopped

3 cups broccoli, chopped in small florets

1 red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 thai red chili or 1 jalepeno pepper, deseeded and chopped (Optional – Can omit chili if don’t want to be spicy, or just use less chili, or add a few red pepper flakes instead).

1 pound  or 500g ground beef sirloin

1 cup loosely packed torn fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon chopped frozen basil leaves

Lime wedges, for serving

PREPARATION:

1.  In a medium saucepan, combine rice, coconut milk, 3/4 cup water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed, about 25 minutes.

2.  While rice is cooking, combine fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar in a small bowl.  Set soy mixture aside.

3.  Heat a cast-iron skillet or wok over high. Add oil, and garlic and chilis (if using). Cook, stirring constantly until garlic softened (about a minute).  Add veggies and cook for a few minutes.  Remove vegetables and set aside.

4. In same pan, add beef and cook until completely browned. Add soy mixture and cook 30 seconds. Add basil and veggies  and cook for a couple minutes, stirring to combine.  Check for seasoning. Serve beef over coconut rice with lime wedges. Tastes yummy with some fresh lime squeezed on top. (I didn’t have limes on hand so used lemon and that works too).

Pantry Diva Logo1PANTRY DIVA TIP: You can use ground chicken, turkey, or pork in this recipe.  Also feel free to add other spices or seasonings…ginger, onion, etc.

You can add any vegetables you have on hand.  Good way to clean out the veggie drawer in the fridge!  Also, I have noticed that if I am making this for kids, the smaller I chop the veggies the better.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s Thai Beef with Chilis and Basil over Coconut Rice. See original recipe here.

The Entertainer App Giveaway – Sign up to Win a free 2014 Entertainer Mobile Package!

As the first giveaway I am doing on my food blog, I thought it would be appropriate to do one for The Entertainer, a company that gives great value on so many dining venues across Dubai.  In fact, the Entertainer books currently offer nearly 2,000 buy one get one free vouchers to many restaurants, cafes, water parks, golf courses, hotels and attractions all over the UAE and many new locations across the world.

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As I have lived in Dubai for 8 years now, I am quite familiar with using the Entertainer vouchers.  And as they have packed more deals inside the books, I am also familiar with how heavy the books that hold the vouchers have become.  Fitting a huge book in your tiny clutch bag when you are going out isn’t always convenient, and the worst feeling is if you go out spontaneously and you realize you’ve left your Entertainer books at home.

But now those little inconveniences will disappear, as the Entertainer has found a way to bring both spontaneity and mobility to all their offers. They have launched the Entertainer App which you can download for free and access directly through your smartphone. You can search for a location nearby, redeem your e-voucher instantly, and also see how much you saved.

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First download the Entertainer App on your smartphone.

Show your server your e-voucher from your Entertainer App.  Redeem instantly!

Show your server your e-voucher from your Entertainer App. Redeem instantly!

See how much you have saved! You can even share with your friends.

Available for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry, you can download the Entertainer App for free and after buying an Entertainer mobile app package, can redeem all the buy one get one free offers.

As a December 2013 promotion, the Entertainer app comes preloaded with some great offers valid for this month, so you can download it and try it out now. For more detailed information on how to use the Entertainer App, click here.

And now for the giveaway.

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For a chance to win a FREE Dubai Mobile App 2014  you must:

1. Sign up HERE on the Entertainer facebook page (full name & email required) – Like the page and share the competition with your friends!
(If the link doesn’t work use this: http://bit.ly/1ayt5V4)

2. Like the Pantry Diva Facebook page to get more updates, offers, and of course recipes.

Winners will be chosen on Monday December 9, 2013 so sign up today!

Good Luck to all my Pantry Diva followers! Some great savings in the new year await you!

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Gaeng Ped Thai Chicken Curry and Dinner with DinnerTime

Do your weeknight dinners look like this? 

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Not only did I make these dinners at home (in 30 minutes) with healthy and organic ingredients, but all ingredients and corresponding recipes were delivered right to my door!

This amazing service was made possible by DinnerTime, a company that takes all the hassle out of meal planning and cooking at home.

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This is how it works: You place an order by Thursday, and then you receive a delivery on the following Sunday for 4 meals. You get all ingredients and all recipes (except a few pantry staples which are mentioned in the recipes) in your delivery so you do not have to go grocery shopping or stress about what to make.  All recipes are easy to prepare and take around 30 minutes to make, so you can make a healthy meal at home both quickly and easily.

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Here is what my delivery looked like after I unpacked it…complete with ingredients, recipes, and measuring cups.

Here is what I prepared for the week:

Gaeng Ped – A Thai Coconut Curry with Chicken and VegetablesImage

This was the favorite of the week, and I have also included the recipe at the end of this post. I timed it, and all the meals really do take around 30 minutes to prepare. An added benefit is when you make the dish again, you are more familiar with it and can make it even faster the next time. My family actually asked for this curry again and the next time I made it, I shaved about 5 minutes off my time! Woohoo!

Another plus is that I had some of the ingredients left over from the initial DinnerTime order, such as the red curry paste and fish sauce, so I did not have to buy them again, which was great value for money.

 Smoked Salmon with Zucchini CakesImage

Surprisingly the kids liked the smoked salmon but not the zucchini cakes. It could have also been that I did not cook them properly as they were a bit soggy, although the taste was delicious. I also want to mention the good quality of ingredients; the smoked salmon was from Salmontini and the vegetables were from GreenHeart Organic Farms.

Veggie Skewers with Quinoa Salad

ImageThis day was very hectic, and I just did not have time to skewer the veggies. Instead I just stir fried them in a wok and also pan fried the halloumi cheese. I still made it within 30 minutes, so was happy about that! I also loved that the recipe was flexible enough so I could make last minute changes and still manage to get a good meal on the table!

 Italian Cavatelli with Lamb SausagesImage

This was another favorite of the week. Pasta is always a crowd pleaser, but sometimes pasta can be boring if you make it the same way all the time. But this pasta had chickpeas and spices and other ingredients I hadn’t associated with Italian cuisine, so it was totally new to me, and the sausages went perfectly with it.

Overall, I had a great experience with DinnerTime. To get a nutritious meal on the table without the hassle of shopping and meal planning is a great service for these busy times we live in. But even for someone like me who cooks a lot, it introduced me to new ideas and new dishes I would not have tried before. If I had to give any critique, I would only say that if you have very picky eaters, you may have issues with them eating or trying a new meal. I must admit, my kids did not love the veggies and quinoa meal, and I had to make a quick mac n’cheese for them to eat, but I still had a great meal for my husband and myself to enjoy. We would definitely do this again. Try DinnerTime for yourself!

For more information about DinnerTime and how to order:

Place order on www.dinnertime.me or by phone +971 55-790-8733 by previous Thursday for Sunday delivery. Deliveries are for either 4 person or 2 person meals.
A Gluten Free option is also available, which has the same recipes but uses gluten free ingredients.

Pricing is as follows and are paid cash on delivery:
4 meals for 4 persons (16 servings total): 420 AED /  520 AED Gluten Free
4 meals for 2 persons (8 servings total): 300 AED / 400 AED Gluten Free

There is currently a promotion going on now if you would like to have a weekly subscription:
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4 meals for 2 persons (8 servings total): 280 AED / 380 AED Gluten Free

DinnerTime UAE LLC
P.O.Box 128110
Dubai – U.A.E.
Phone 055-790 8733
www.dinnertime.me

Here is a sample recipe of what you can expect if you order. My family loved this one and we have already made it again!

Gaeng Ped – Thai Curry recipe by DinnerTime  

Chicken fillets, bell peppers, and red curry in coconut milk, served with rice

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Preparation time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:
4 servings Rice (H), (about 300ml or 1.2 cups) *Note: (H) denotes an ingredient you use from your home pantry
500 gram Chicken Fillet, cut into bite size pieces
1 can Coconut Milk
1 tablespoon Red Curry Paste (amount to taste)
1 ½ tablespoons Fish Sauce
1 teaspoon Sugar (H)
3 Lime Leaves
100-150 gram Green Beans, rinsed and cut info half
1 Red Bell Pepper, rinsed and cut into pieces
½ box Fresh White Mushrooms, sliced
½ bunch Fresh Coriander, chopped, amount to taste

1 deciliter = 100 milliliter = little less than half a cup (125 milliliter)

Preparation:
Start boiling 4 servings of rice according to the package instructions.

Cut the chicken fillet into bite-size pieces.
In a large frying pan, set coconut milk and red curry paste to boil.
Add the fish sauce, sugar, and lime leaves.
Add the chicken fillet and let simmer for about 10 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Rinse the green beans and cut them into halves and cut the bell pepper into pieces.
Wash and slice the mushrooms.

Add in the green beans and mushrooms when the chicken is just about done.
Let it simmer for a few more minutes.

Add the bell pepper and simmer for another minute.

Chop the coriander.

Serve the chicken with rice and garnish with coriander.