Are you a fan of hearty Italian cooking? Do you love pizza and pasta? Well we’re big fans of Italian cuisine and pizza and pasta are our favorites, specially those with marinara sauce!
Sure we have our favorite Italian restaurants both here and abroad. But nothing beats home cooking! And a bowl of spaghetti is comfort food at its best.
Pastas and pizza have 2 basic ingredients; dough in the form of noodles or crust, and sauce. So making it at home should be easy, specially since you can buy pasta, crust, and sauces dried, frozen, or bottled from any grocery store. But why settle for boxed sauces (or pasta or crust) when making it from scratch is so simple?
Ok maybe making pizza dough is a bit time consuming and so is making pasta, but the sauces, well that’s pretty easy! (If you want to make homemade pasta check out my review of the Philips Pasta Machine). Marinara
One of the easiest and most versatile sauces is Marinara Sauce. You can use it for pasta, think spaghetti marinara; pizza, think Margherita; sandwiches, think meatball subs; and as a dip, think fried mozzarella sticks!
So today I’ll share my Basic Marinara Sauce Recipe. Believe me it’s super easy!
I use canned Fire Roasted diced tomatoes to give it that homemade taste. Sugar cuts the acidity of all those diced tomatoes so don’t leave it out even if you think it’s weird. And lastly I add some spice with crushed red peppers, yes, the the stuff you sprinkle on your pizza; you can add the tablespoon or more if you like spicy or omit it if you don’t.
We’re all very busy working on our gift lists just like Santa’s little elves. In all the hustle and bustle of the season we sometimes forget to give our furry little friends a little something.
We’ve been giving not only our family pets Christmas gifts for years, we give our pet lover friends gifts for their fur balls too. I’m not sure who started this tradition and when we started, but I do know that we all love it!
I know sometimes things get too crazy and you think do I have to think of pet gits too? Not to mention pet gifts at the pet stores can be ridiculously expensive, sometimes hard to fit into a Christmas budget specially if you have lots of pet friends. But you don’t have to break the bank on buying gifts for the furry critters or your friends that have some.
This year we’ll be giving out homemade doggie biscuits. They are very easy and inexpensive to make and you can package them in any type of container you like. We’re packing ours in pint size Mason jars, it’s sort of the double gift, the jar can be used throughout the year for more treats!
I baked these treats in about an hour using just a few ingredients, many of which I already had in my pantry. I used rolled oats, ground flax seeds, and olive oil along with the other ingredients for a tasty and healthy treat. Rolled oats are a good source of fiber and the flax seeds and olive oil are good for skin and coat. My Siberian Husky, Cannoli, loves them. She’s my taste tester!
Here’s my recipe! It will make 24 bone shaped dog treats about 3″ long and 1/2″ thick
2 cups flour – organic if you have it
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup flax seed meal
1 small jar of chicken in chicken broth strained baby food
1 small jar of carrot strained baby food
3/4 + cup water
1/4 cup Olive oil
1. Mix all ingredients except water together in large bowl.
2. Knead dough, adding water about 1/4 cup at a time until the dry ingredients are all mixed in and you can form a ball.
3. Roll out dough to 1/2″ thickness.
4. Cut desired shapes with cookie cutters or use a glass to make round shapes.
5. Place biscuits on parchment paper covered baking sheet.
6. Re-roll dough until you have cut it all into biscuits.
7. Brush both sides of biscuits with olive oil.
8. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Turning biscuits halfway for even browning.
9. Remove from oven and cool on racks. Cool completely before placing in containers.
Store at room temperature in sealed containers. It will keep for 2-3 weeks or place in freezer to store longer.
Mansaf, Fatiyeh, or Fatihah this traditional middle eastern lamb stew in yogurt sauce is a big part of Arabic cuisine. It is a favorite dish for large gatherings including weddings and engagement parties. In short it plays a large part in Middle Eastern hospitality.
In my experience folks in the Arab world are very hospitable and generous. Rolling out a huge tray of Mansaf is a sign of respect and welcome to anyone visiting an Arab home whether it be in Jordan, Dubai, Europe, or America.
But of course this traditional dish has several names depending on the country or even city one is in. In most countries like Jordan and Lebanon it’s called Mansaf; it’s the same dish Palestinians from the West Bank call Fatiyeh or Fatihah and those who hail closer to the larger cities call Mensaf. Whatever it’s called it’s basically the same dish with a few regional additions to the toppings.
So what is Mansaf? It’s a dish typically made with Lamb that’s simmered in a yogurt sauce made from reconstituted “Chisitch/Kishk/Jameed” (fermented or dried sheeps’ milk yogurt.) Then the meat and sauce are served on a bed of torn unleavened bread like Shrak or pita and rice. The whole dish can be topped with fresh parsley and sprinkled with toasted pine nuts; or as I’ve been taught by some of my Palestinian husband’s friends a ring of fried onions and tomatoes.
Really the secret ingredient, or not so secret, is the Chisitch. Okay it’s not the easiest thing to get your hands on. I usually get the dried balls of Chisitch from my husband’s relatives who travel to and from the Middle East or my sister-in-law who actually makes it! I’ve also been able to buy it from a market in Oman during one of my trips there. But you might be able to find it at a middle eastern market where it’s usually called Kishk or Jameed. It’s available in liquid or powder form. Or you can believe it or not order it from Amazon by clicking this affiliate link!
If all else fails and you simply can not get a hold of Chisitch/Kishk/Jameed then use Buttermilk! Yes the carton you find in your grocer’s diary section. Good old fashioned buttermilk, the stuff you can use to make Buttermilk pancakes and biscuits!
If you’re using balls of chisitch from where ever you must reconstitute it – meaning soak the balls in water overnight, then place all of it in your blender until it is liquified. You might need to add water to the blender to get the liquid you need.
If you’re using powdered kishk or jameed then dissolve it in water. Obviously the easiest one to use would be liquid jameed or buttermilk.
Whichever one you use the real secret is to keep the jameed or kishk liquid from curdling when you add it to your meat. To do that you must temper it by slowly stirring the liquid into a little bit of lamb broth. This brings the temperature of the jameed up to the temperature of the stewed meat.
So if you want to try this yummy dish at home scroll down for my recipe. It’s pretty fussy, it takes me a whole afternoon too make it! This recipe is for a fairly small tray, you can double or triple it if you need to make a large tray for more people.
By the way Mansaf or Fatihah is traditionally eaten with one’s fingers right off the serving tray. The polite and proper way to eat this dish is to use your fingers to take bite-sized portions from the tray and pop it in your mouth. You take portions only from the meat and rice that is directly in front of you; respect other diner’s tray space. That’s how it’s traditionally eaten; at our house it’s served family style with a serving spoon used to spoon a portion on to each person’s plate and we uses forks and knives.
Place meat in large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil.
While meat boils fat will come to the surface. Skim off fat and discard. Continue this process until fat stops forming on the surface.
Strain meat and set aside while you thoroughly wash out the pot. Dry pot before proceeding.
Heat 1 Tbs. Olive Oil in pot and add 1 portion of chopped onions. Cook onions until they start to soften.
Add meat and Lebanese 7 Spices Mix and stir well. Cook until onions become translucent.
Add beef broth to cover meat. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer covered for 2 hours.
Meanwhile you can prepare other parts of the dish.
Heat remaining Olive Oil in frying pan and add remaining chopped onions. Cook until onions start to soften.
Add garlic to pan and cook about 1 minute stirring constantly.
Add chopped tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are soft and juices start to come out. Salt & Pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
Melt 2 Tbs. Butter in saute pan and toast pine nuts until they start to turn golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
About 30 minutes before stew is cooked prepare rice by first melting remaining butter in pot.
Add Vermecelli and saute until pasta starts to turn golden brown.
Add dry rice and saute another minute.
Stir in about 4 cups of water to cover the rice. Cook covered over low heat for 20 minutes or until rice is cooked. Let rest at least 5 minutes to absorb any remaining water.
Check you meat. It should be tender and falling off the bone.
If meat is cooked turn down heat very low.
Remove about 1 cup of broth from pot to temper your jameed or buttermilk.
Slowly pour liquid jameed or buttermilk into that broth. Stirring only in one direction as you add the jameed. This is tempering the jameed. It is very important that you stir as you combine the liquids and stir only in one direction to keep the jameed from curdling.
Once the jameed is tempered using the same procedure slowly add the tempered jameed into the pot of stew.
Simmer on low heat for about 20 Minutes.
Meanwhile prepare your serving tray. Break up the bread into pieces and place pieces on to the tray.
Cover bread with rice.
Place meat on the rice. Pour yogurt sauce (liquid you cooked meat in) over the meat and rice.
Roasted Cashews are one of my husband’s favorite snacks, specially when he’s on his “keto diet”. Although cashews have some carbs they are also high in fat, so when consumed moderately they can be part of a keto diet as long as you count their carb content as part of your carb consumption for the day.
I’m not really an expert on all things keto so I’ll leave that up to you. But I digress. Recently I purchased a tub of roasted cashews from Costco, the brand we usually buy, and when my husband snacked on it he insisted that the cashews were not roasted nor were they salted. I can’t imagine what happened but after tasting them myself I had to agree. Perhaps this was part of a weird batch, who knows! But I do know that unless I did something with them we’d end up tossing the container away and that’s a waste! So I decided to roast and flavor them myself. I can’t be that hard. Anyway I tossed some in my cast iron skillet and sprinkled a bit of this and a bit of that over them and lo and behold they came out delicious!
Everyone in the family loved my latest creation, this one I’m calling Chipotle Flavored Roasted Cashews! I’ve had to make it several more times since then, it disappears that fast! I’m also thinking of using different seasonings. I’ll let you know how that goes!
But in the mean time here’s my recipe for Chipotle Flavored Roasted Cashews. A quick tip, when roasting cashews or any type of nut be sure you keep stirring the pan because they tend to burn quickly and you do not want burnt cashews!
Anyway make up a batch or two of these Chipotle Flavored Roasted Cashews and see how quickly they disappear! You can serve them hot from the pan, that’s really delish! Left overs can be stored in airtight containers in a cool dry place. But I doubt you’ll be storing them for long. Yes they’re that good!
By the way you can double or triple this recipe. I just prefer to make it in small batches because we really love them warm and in Hawaii the humidity makes it hard to keep them crunchy.
A Beef Shawarma sandwich or plate! Yum! It’s one of my favorites. It’s one of the things I always order when I find myself at a Middle Eastern restaurant anywhere in the world.
Shawarma is sort of like the Greek Gyro or Turkish Doner Kebab; it’s a cone of seasoned meat or meats that’s cooked on a vertical spit. Typically beef, lamb, and chicken are combined to form the large hunk of meat which is slowly grilled as it turns on its axis on the vertical spit. Pieces of cooked meat are shaved off and stuffed in a pita with sauces, veggies, and pickles or placed on a plate with a serving of salad, hummus, rice, and pita bread.
I believe Shawarma started out as Middle Eastern street food where the sandwiches can be taken to go and eaten on as you go. But these days you’ll find mixed meats, beef, and chicken shawarma on fast food and restaurant menus throughout the Middle East and beyond.
We love this tasty dish so much that we make it at home since there really aren’t any good Middle Eastern restaurants where we live. Recently I’ve started making Beef Shawarma in my Instant Pot! It’s the easiest and fastest way to make it!
We usually make Beef Shawarma sandwiches but we’ve also made Beef Shawarma plates and bowls. We also use the leftover meat to top hummus, assuming we havhttp://www.savvynana.com/wp-admin/e leftovers that is!
But really the secret to this Beef Shawarma that tastes like you got it from a Middle Eastern restaurant isn’t in the way it’s cooked, the secret’s in the spice mix that’s rubbed on the meat! Marinating the meat overnight ensures that the meat is infused with the exotic flavors of the spices. Cooking it in the Instant Pot just makes the cooking process faster, but you can actually make it in the oven or on a grill if you don’t own this handy dandy electric pressure cooker.
Once you make the Beef Shawarma you can make it into a sandwich and top with your favorite toppings such as hummus, tahini sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, and I love it with Tzatziki sauce! (I know I’m mixing Arabic and Greek foods, but who cares? It tastes great!)
Using a small knife drill 12 holes all over your roast
Stuff a garlic half in each hole
Mix Shawarma Spice Mix with 2 Tbs. ACV and 1 Tbs. Olive Oil
Rub this spice mixture all over the roast then place the meat in a covered dish or ziplock bag and let rest in the fridge for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. I find that overnight works well.
30 minutes before cooking set the meat on the counter and let the temperature go down to room temperature
Place remaining olive oil in instant pot and set pot to saute
Sear the meat on all sides for about 5-8 minutes per side
Add beef broth and remaining ACV to the pot
Cover making sure the valve is set to sealing
Set pot on Manual and adjust time to 60 minutes
When pot turns off allow pressure to release naturally
When pot is completely depressurized carefully open the lid and remove the meat
Shred the meat and place in a bowl or baking sheet. At this point you can use the meat to make sandwiches, plates, or bowls. Or if you prefer you can crisp the ends by sprinkling a bit of the broth over the meat and popping the pan in the oven to broil on high for 10 minutes or just until the ends turn darker brown. If you are crisping it keep a close eye on the meat as it will burn quickly in the broiler.
Store any leftovers with a bit of broth to keep it from drying out. Reheat in the microwave or in the over, drizzle some of the broth over the meat before reheating.