For those who don’t know what Achta is and why I’m completely obsessed over it…what you need to know is… making real Achta is a long and lengthy process of watching raw milk boil till it curdles on the top and then scraping the curdled part in baby steps till you have a small plate of pudding (yawn).
My job is to take complicated recipes and make them simpler. I know it’s not traditionally correct but this is the closest you’ll get and I love that there’s barely any sugar in it AND my son, “Mr Food Snob” really enjoys eating this as a pudding. I have finally been able to replace those sugar infused processed puddings with this homemade option full of dairy and calcium.
What the heck is Achta? It is a popular Arabic pastry Cream used for many desserts, knafeh, atayef or even on its own with honey, fruit and nuts sprinkled on top. My son preferred it with no honey. We ate it on its own this time and I made a small batch of dried apricots stuffed with atayef. So easy to prepare and a nice treat to offer guests! How beautiful do all the colors look!?
Here is the recipe: Do as you please with it!
Prep time: 5 min
Cooking time: 5 -8 min
Resting time: 2 hours
7 slices white bread crust removed
1/2 cup corn starch with 1/2 cup water
2 cups milk
2 cups cream
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp rose water
1 tbsp orange blossom water
Cut crust off bread and chop into squares. Don’t be a perfectionist here
Mix corn starch and milk till it’s a smooth liquid
Mix with a whisk the milk, cream, corn starch mixture and sugar till all incorporated
Put pot on top of heat (medium to high) and add the pieces of bread
Keep stirring all the time till mixture gets thick and then use a whisk to smoothen the mixture out
Once the bread has dissolved and mixture has boiled (2-4 min) you can turn the fire off and add the orange blossom and rose water.
Pour into a glass Pyrex and cover with cling film. This part is important: let the cling film touch the Achta and cover the mixture completely because it will keep it from forming a hard layer on top.
Cool down and place in fridge
Achta is ready to eat after two hours and ready to be filled in your recipes if you give it a mix so it clumps up a little.
I accidentally bought one too many packs of puff pastry. Never a problem, if anything that’s a good kind of mistake. The famous picky eater child of mine loves bread but frowns upon puff pastry, however he is obsessed with cinnamon. He will eat it dry with a spoon. Total weirdo who I am in love with! So anyway, I did a super quick version of cinnamon rolls with a side of apple sauce for dipping into. A week has passed since I’ve made these and I’m craving some now just because of that apple sauce dip. Total winner and perfect to send to school as a snack for the kids. Good news is Ryan loved them, I realize I didn’t accomplish much in the nutritional aspect of it all but when a picky eater like him, finally accepts another food WHATEVER it is without a fight, that’s always a good step towards more food acceptance and letting his food barrier down creating more trust in trying new things. Next time, I’ll Mix a vegetable and purée it inside perhaps that’ll it work. Find something they love and experiment!
1 sheet of puff pastry, I like to use the jus roll brand. Don’t roll it out. It’s better to get the box that comes in a big rectangular sheet. When you defrost it, take it out and don’t roll it out or else it’ll make it hard to roll it later.
3 tbsp raw refine free brown sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
Combine the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle it all across the pastry sheet.
Roll it and slice into equal parts.
I’ve done this before and each roll ended up opening leaving me with snail looking rolls. I had an idea to place the pin wheels into a cup cake tin so that when they expand in the oven they stay confined in each individual cupcake tin. It worked really well!
Cook on medium heat till golden and remove!
For the Apple Sauce:
3 apples peeled and chopped up coarsely
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
1 tsp butter
Add to a pot and simmer till apples are soft. Blend and you’re done.
I really enjoyed working on this feature specifically because it stood out from the rest of the typical “Christmas Meal inspiration”. Now, there’s nothing wrong with the festive and traditional Christmas turkey along with all its roasted sides but since we live in the UAE and the weather is actually spring like (no where near winter), the thought of being able to take it easy for once and work on a simple yet flavorful outdoor garden style Christmas celebration made me jump off my seat and turn on some Christmas tunes (not the Mariah Carey ones) and get prepping!
Here is my feature with some easy recipes that will leave you with enough time to really immerse yourself with the true meaning of Christmas and the holidays rather than being cooped up in your kitchen and getting ready 10 minute before your guests arrive (we’ve all been there right?!)
I recently purchased the book “Deceptively Delicious” recommended to me by @amominlove (follow her on Instagram for inspiration on what to serve your kids in their lunch boxes everyday)! She makes it look like fun without too much effort. Love that!
Back to the book! It’s packed with recipes on how to hide healthy ingredients into your food for the kids. As amazing as the options are, my son will barely go for any of them because he’s a special type of extreme picky eater! What it has helped me with is my other kid and it has served as an inspiration to other things I could cook and smuggle into for my boy!
This recipe is adapted from Jessica Seinfeld: here it goes!
1 tbsp butter
4 cups mini marshmallows
3.5 cups brown rice cereal
1 cup sugar free granola cereal (mine included oats and pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup flaxmeal
1/2 cup organic dedicated coconut (optional)
Met butter in pan and add marshmallows. Mix around till puffed up. Do not over heat! Let mixture cool down for two minutes before adding rice cereal or else the cereal will become soggy.
Add rice and granola and coconut
Pour mixture into greased pan and flatten to the desired thickness you want. I like to use wax paper to pat down the treat.
Let cool down completely and cut into desired shapes.
What a success these turned out to be! Loved by all! The end
Pumpkin, pumpkin everywhere! I’m in love with Fall and all it’s dishes it has to offer! I’ve been wanting to make pumpkin donuts for a while now and I finally did it because 1) Something in my head was telling me to package pumpkin in a donut form so that my son would eat it. 2) Been waiting to find a simple and easy recipe!
I’ve cooked baked donuts before and they came out cake like – total bummer! I felt like I got ripped off. These on the other hand, came out thicker but still moist! I refused to glaze them despite the little Halloween devil on my right shoulder whispering “caramel frosting, brown sugar frosting, cinnamon – sugar frosting in my ear” I managed to block it out and keep them plain. This way, the kids are actually eating good stuff and I can send to school in their lunch box!
I used my electric donut maker that I have seen in several kitchen gadget sections of stores. However you could also use a donut baking tray. (The electric one takes 2 min per round and is much quicker)
Ingredients and Method:
In one bowl whisk the following:
2 cups all purpose flour minus 2 tbsp
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
In a second bowl mix with an electric blender the following till well blended and no more lumps:
3/4 cup unrefined brown sugar (original recipe called for 1 1/2 cups brown and white sugar so add extra as you wish)
1/2 cup sunflower oil (or canola)
1 1/2 cup pumpkin purée (canned or fresh)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Empty dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix again till smooth.
Drop 1 tbsp full into donut pan or donut maker and cook.
So it’s Fall and the pumpkin flavors are upon us and the pie crusts are secretly joining forces with our hips! If I want to enjoy pumpkin pie season I’m gonna need to take it easy on the crusts and this pumpkin pie is not only ridiculously easy but it’s also more healthy! The kids loved it so much too! Shocker.
The pan I cooked it in was quite wide in diameter so the filling came out to be low so I cut them up in bars to be sent to school individually. Next time, I’ll do it in a smaller pan for more thickness! Apart from that this was so good!
Prep: 10 min
1 cup canned (or fresh) pumpkin purée. If using fresh please make sure to strain out all the liquid from the puréed pumpkin!
1/2 cup pancake mix ( I used the bob mill 7 whole grain one). This is what will help create a thin layer as the pie bakes.
1/2 cup refined free brown sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla
Heat oven to 180 C and grease a 23cm pan with butter. I used a bigger pan and cut the pie into bars later.
In a large bowl mix all the ingredients with a whisk. And pour filling into pan.
Bake for 35-40 min until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
I topped each bar with a pecan and less than half a tsp of a failed butter cream I’ve been trying to make for my daughter’s upcoming birthday.
These amazingly delicious croquettes were intended for my daughter but after I tried one, I realized my subconscious must have led itself to make them for me! I completely winged this recipe as I do with many of my meals but there’s no way you can mess this up because if I can do it then then you’ll be just fine.
It’s all about the ingredients and the combining agent – the egg. So please don’t feel discouraged. This also isn’t your typical arancini balls that are usually loaded with cheese. These are actually quite healthy and could be baked instead of seared like I did just because I was in a hurry.
I made these because I thought more people were coming over one day so I made two cups of rice when I should have only made one especially in my house hold where carbs are being murdered. I also had some freshly cooked shrimp!. Now that you know where the inspiration came from, let me try to tell you how I made them.
Preparation Time: 6 min
Cooking Time: 7 min
Yields: 15 small balls
Ingredients: Rather than give you exact measurements i’m going to give you estimates (remember how I said I winged these right?) You can add less or more of something else but keep it somewhat constant. Did that make any sense?
1 – 2 Cups Cooked Shrimp
1/2 cup cooked rice
1 small carrot chopped
Fresh or Powdered Ginger
Fresh or Powdered Garlic
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp parsley
Batter: Tempura Crumbs + Flax Meal
Blend all the ingredients together while adding 3 to 5 tablespoons of milk
Empty blended ingredients into a bowl and crack an egg and whisk
If mixture is too wet and not easily manageable, add 1 tbsp of flour
Otherwise, shape into balls and then coat with mixed batter of tempura and flax meal. The balls will be gooey and its ok!
Refrigerate till balls are firm again for 10 min
Heat up some oil of choice in pan and gently sear them on medium to low heat till crispy.
Place on paper towel and serve with some veggies on the side or a sweet and sour sauce.
Sometimes my daughter who is my happy foodie becomes picky like her brother. His negative food vibes must rub off on her at times! How can’t they! He’s so extreme 😒. We usually have a lot of rice dishes with a side of stew in our home but this week she seemed so uninterested and kept asking for pasta! PASTA! No child of mine is going to become an everyday pasta child especially not the child who does enjoy food so I thought of what to make her that still had some carbs with a side of meat and this is where the meat balls and mashed potatoes came from. I used sweet potatoe mash which by the way I heard a little complaints from (she prefers white potatoes) but it was all good! The best part was that my husband who also doesn’t eat rice (as I’m writing this I am connecting the pieces. Pretty clear where daddy’s girl was getting her new food ideologies from- apologies to my son!) Anyway, this was one dish that we all ate from and I didn’t have to be a short order cook for my husband and kid. My son, he must have eaten zaatar with labneh.
Here is the recipe which I am sorry is not 100% I really need to work on writing down everything I put in the pot but don’t forget…My recipes are easy and made in a way where you can still always add your own touch!
You will need:
Meatballs: (you can purchase ready made ones or make them yourself by adding paprika, garlic powder, chopped parsley, salt and pepper and an egg into 500grams of lean ground beef). Mix together and shape into balls.
One big onion sliced
One box of mushrooms cleaned and sliced
2 tbsp tomatoes paste
Spices: 1 tsp of dried oregano, salt, cinnamon, paprika and 1/2 tsp pepper. Adjust according to taste.
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup water
Heat olive oil in a pan and brown the meat balls on all sides.
Once done remove and place on a plate on the side
Using the same pan, add the sliced onions and begin caramelizing till golden. This gives your stock that you will eventually make with the water you add more flavorful!
Add the mushrooms and cook through. Don’t let them dry out too much. You want the moisture the mushrooms are releasing to add to the sauce/stock.
Add the meat balls again and mix together for 2 minutes on high heat.
Add water and tomatoe paste and allow to simmer for 10 min while adding remaining spices. Oregano, salt, pepper, paprika, cinnamon.
If you are feeling happy, add some fresh cream otherwise leave the gravy sauce as is.
4 sweet potatoes cleaned and chopped to boil in less time. You can opt to keep skin on! I removed it for this time.
Do not over boil or else you will lose the nutrients. Once cooked through remove them from water and begin to mash. I sometimes add shredded cheese and or cream to mine but we were trying to be strict with carbs so I didn’t this time.
Add mashed garlic and chopped rosemary (Optional), salt
Preserve the water they boil in to adjust the consistency of the mashing once ready.
These Popsicles will always be in my freezer! I realize that when you juice fruits the fibers go and it’s more sugar for the kids however with this Popsicle, I only blended a watermelon i purchased that is always too damn big for our family of four and added plain yogurt to it. If your kids have a sweet tooth, add a little bit of honey but try it Au Naturel the first time. The cereal you give them with the yogurt popsicle can be the sweet part if you want to use that as your negotiation! The kids and you will love these! And the best part is…when they start melting just a little in their little hands, the yogurt falls into the granola and makes that even better. It’s like a win-win situation guys!
No recipe needed for this. Just blend whatever watermelon you have left and then add some Yogurt (2:1 ratio) worked well!
Other ideas: I am always doing these Popsicles, if you want to add more nutrition to them, you can cut up some fruits inside, add coconut water, aloe Vera, some super food powder! The list can go on and on but for now and for my son’s “good boy” stamp that he received today; these will do with a side of organic crunchy granola.