Mother’s Day Tea Party | Feat. A yummy spread & recipes!

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Hi loves!

I realized, that I never made a blog post about our Mothers Day celebration we had at my home (but it’s better late then never right?). I invited my mom and dad over for Mothers Day and I knew I wanted to do something different then the typical ‘bengali styled lunch’ which usually includes, biryani, a cucumber salad, some raita and another dish consisting of veggies or meat. I wanted to do something different, that I know she would appreciate.. so I whipped together a really cute Indigo/Kate Spade/Stephanie Sterjovski inspired tea party.

The spread included, delicate cucumber sandwiches, a cantaloupe boat with fresh black berries and mint, mini quiches, samosa’s, veggie pin wheels, a special blueberry & watermelon juice and of course, tea! You wont believe how simple each of the dishes were to make and you’ll find that the common ingredients are: cream cheese, dill, mint and fruit. What I like about this spread was that I was able to do use one ingredient on a couple different items which made my life and grocery list inexpensive and easy.

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For the recipes of each dish, please see below 🙂

Recipes: 

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Cucumber Sandwiches:
1. White bread
2. Cream Cheese (softened)
3. Dill
4. Cucumbers
5. Salt & Pepper

Cucumber sandwiches are super easy, tasty and delicate. All you do is spread cream cheese (make sure its softened!) on both slices of bread. Sprinkle each side with some fresh dill, salt and pepper. After slicing some thin cucumbers (and letting them soak out their water on a kitchen paper towel), neatly distribute them on one slice of the bread. Put both sides together and cut off the crust using a serrated knife. (These sandwiches were a huge hit, especially with my dad! lol)
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Cantaloupe Boat:
1. Cantaloupe
2. Berries of your choice (I used blackberries)
3. Mint
4. Icing sugar or regular sugar

This is a super easy dish and only takes a few minutes to make. I made it the night before and just refrigerated it over night. First, cut your cantaloupe into slices and present them on a platter. Grab some berries of your choice and place them nicely around and in between the cantaloupe. Next, slice up some fresh mint from your garden and sprinkle over top. Lastly (and you want to do this moments before you serve the item) – dust over some icing sugar which will give your fruit platter a beautiful touch. I unfortunately did this the night before, and my icing sugar dissolved.

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Mini Quiches:
1. Phyllo Dough (1 box)
2. 12 Eggs (Feel free to use less)
3. A dash of heavy cream
4. Mozzarella Cheese
5. Chives
6. Sour cream
7. Lemon Zest
8. Dill

They sound fancy, but trust me it was the EASIEST dish to make (also made the night before). In a bowl, mix together your eggs, heavy cream and salt and pepper – whip it up and leave it aside for a moment. Using a cupcake tray, line your THAWED phyllo dough and make little cups. Fill the bottom of each cup with a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese and then transfer your egg mixture into each cup, sprinkling a handful of chives on top. Now bake at 375 for about 15 minutes or until the eggs are golden brown and puffed up. While this is cooling, in another bowl whisk together about a cup of sour cream, the zest of one lemon and a handful of dill. Once your eggs are out of the oven and have cooled, apply a doll up of the sour cream mixture on top and garnish with some fresh dill. VOILA!

Pin Wheels:
1. Colorful tortilla bread
2. Softened Cream Cheese
3. A variety of veggies (I used red/green/yellow peppers and onions)
4. Salt & Pepper

Spread softened cream cheese on your tortilla bread. Sprinkle your favorite veggies on top and add salt and pepper. Roll very tightly and cover with aluminum foil (or you can cut it into pieces and serve right away). I covered it with the foil, put it in the fridge and cut it into bite size pieces in the morning.

As for the samosa’s, they were bought but absolutely delicious and added that bengali touch to the tea party. Additionally, I just grabbed some blueberry watermelon fruitopia and added frozen fruits and lots of ice for a cool, cold drink. I hope you guys enjoyed the recipes and pictures!

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Thank you so much for reading!

Love,
Anisa

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Soft Pretzels … From Scratch!

Happy Sunday Everyone!

Every year I visit my best friend & cousin in Florida and since we were little we made a little tradition of going to “Pretzel Time” and grabbing a delicious warm salted pretzel with a cold lemonade in the local Ocala Mall. It’s just one of those things that we both get excited about and enjoy watching through the window as the employees make the soft pretzels right in front of your very eyes. Unfortunately Pretzel Time was taken out of the mall and Auntie Anne’s was added in. Of course we tried it! With cheese, mustard and even a hot dog right in the middle but I have to say, nothing beats the soft pretzels from Pretzel Time.

With that being said, this weekend I decided to tackle something I’ve always wanted to try. While watching endless youtube videos of ‘how to make soft pretzels’ I kept assuming that the process was just long, frustrating and tedious. I then decided to at least give it a try and combine a few youtube videos together to make my own home made soft pretzel from scratch!

Though the process was not fast and easy (and believe me when I say I am the most impatient person EVER!) the end result was perfection which made it worth the wait. Crispy on the outside and soft and warm on the inside! I would recommend trying this recipe on a saturday or sunday when you have time to yourself and don’t have many errands to run as the process requires tender loving attention and care! The best part about this recipe is that you probably have all of these ingredients, if not most at home. Now enough pep talk, lets get this recipe started!

Ingredients:

a) 1.5 cups of warm water (make sure the water is not hot or your yeast will not activate)
b) 1 Tbsp of Sugar
c) 1 tsp of Salt
d) 1 package of Dry Yeast
e) 2 Tbsp of melted Butter
f) 4 ½ cups of All Purpose Flour
g) 5 cups of HOT water
h) 1/2 cup of Baking Soda
i) Egg Wash (1 Egg beaten)
j) Kosher Salt or Cinnamon + Sugar for seasoning
k) Vegetable Oil (As needed)
l) Pam or Cooking Oil Spray

Step 1: Prep all of your items, this makes the process much faster as you aren’t running around your kitchen looking for the necessary ingredients/items. I do not have all of my pictures here but you get the idea ;). Also, preheat your oven at 420 degrees.

Step 2: In your mixer, or a bowl, combine your Sugar, Salt, Warm Water and Yeast (do not mix).  The yeast will start activating when it forms a foam like texture – this should take about 5 minutes. Once the yeast is activated, put your mixer on low to combine all of the ingredients together. The picture below is an example of what the yeast should look like when it is activated, you will notice that it is a little foamy, dissolved and separated.

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Step 2: After measuring out EXACTLY 4.5 cups of flour and keeping your mixer at a low speed, start adding in your flour very slowly. If you go too fast, your flour can spill everywhere and make a big mess.

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Step 3: After your flour has been incorporated, add in your melted butter very slowly.

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Step 4: When your yeast mixture, flour and butter are incorporated, turn your mixer up to a medium speed and let it go for about 7-10 minutes. You are looking to make sure that your dough mixture becomes well incorporated and soft.

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Step 5: Take your dough out of the mixer and gently pull it together. Put your dough in a lightly oiled bowl and tightly seal it with saran wrap. Make sure you do not let any air out.

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Step 6: Next, put your bowl in a closed space, this could be your microwave or stove (don’t turn ON the microwave/stove obvs). This is just so that you can let your dough rest and rise. Leave it in the closed space for 2 hours for best results. 1 hour will do if you really are that impatient. #dontbeimpatient

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Step 7: This is the best part. I love the difference in the dough size and the dough texture – its so soft! On your counter, sprinkle some flour and take your dough out of the bowl.

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Step 7: Grab a knife and cut your dough into 2 pieces. Then, taking one side you want to cut 6 equal pieces.

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Step 8: Working quickly one by one (so your dough doesn’t become crusty), roll out a portion you originally cut and make it into a “U” shape.

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Step 9: Take the right side of your “U” and bring it over to the bottom left side. Do the same with the left side of the “U” and bring it over to the bottom right. Since this was a horrible explanation, refer to the pictures below. LOL

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Step 10: After you have successfully made the perfect pretzel shape, put your pretzels on a tray topped with parchment paper that has previously been sprayed  heavily with cooking oil.

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Step 11: While your pretzels are resting, grab a bowl and add your water and baking soda mixture. You want to submerge each pretzel into the mixture for 30 seconds, dry the pretzel on a towel and put it back onto the tray.

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Step 12: You then want to take your egg wash mixture and brush each pretzel. Once each pretzel is brushed, sprinkle some sea salt on top!

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Step 13: Throw your pretzels into the oven for about 10-12 minutes. Make sure to turn your tray around half way through the baking process, this will help evenly bake the pretzels. This recipe will make 12 pretzels, I did not put both trays into the oven at the same time. When the pretzels are out, they should be golden brown, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.. and yes I am drinking coke in a cup.

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And there you go my friends! 13 easy steps to making fabulous delicious pretzels! It may be a long process but it really is simple and easy. Do not rush and follow each step thoroughly. If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comment section and I will answer them to the best of my ability!

Happy Pretzel-ing & Good Luck!

Fool Proof Recipe: Chicken Biryani

It’s come across my mind that I have yet to share with you a South Asian dish that may be of your liking. Last night I decided to try Biryani for the second time (the first time, I added way too many spices and  to be frank – it didn’t taste too good). Although I did not have all the ingredients that I would have liked to use at hand, I made the Chicken Biryani anyway as Irshad and I were really craving it.

SO! Let’s begin my friends! Yall better appreciate the fact that I had my professional huge camera with me during this cooking process #noteasy

Ingredients:
1. Salt (honestly the biggest ‘andaj’ ever – basically meaning, I put in whatever I thought was the right amount)
2. Chili Powder – 3 tbsp (My chili powder isn’t very strong, if yours is strong then put less)
3. Tumeric Powder – 1 tbsp
4. Ginger and Garlic Paste – 2 tbsp
5. Cinnamon Stick – 1 large stick broken into 2 equal pieces
6. Cumin Powder – 1 tbsp
7. Bay Leaves – 3
8. Black Cloves – 8
9. Cardamom – 6
10. Green Chilies – I used 3 big ones because we like our food really spicy, you can use more or less
11. Garam Masala – 1 tbsp
12. Onion – 1
13. Chicken Breast/Legs
14. Basmati Rice – 3 Cups
15. Vegetable Oil – 2 tbsp

Okay now that we have the ingredients listed, LEGOO!!!

Step 1.
Set out your ingredients (I forgot the salt here but just pretend its sitting right there in the middle)

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Step 2.
Slice some lemons

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Step 3.
Slice some onions

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Step 4.
Put 3 cups of rice in a bowl and add at least 5 cups of water to fully cover it. Put it aside and leave it for one hour.

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Step 5.
Clean your chicken! Why do I only have drum sticks? Well because it was cheap. #forthewin

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Step 6.
In a non stick pan, heat up your oil and add your onions stirring constantly. Stove should be on a medium level.

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Step 7.
When your onions become translucent, add in your chili powder, garam masala, tumeric powder, cumin, salt, ginger and garlic paste, cinnamon sticks, 2 black cloves, and 2 cardamoms, stirring constantly.

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Step 8.
After stirring and coating your onions completely, add half a cup of boiled water into the pan. Remember to always have water boiling when you are cooking a curry dish, hot water is the best to add (don’t ask me why, just do it).

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Step 9.
Throw in your chicken and coat the pieces with the curry

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Step 10.
Add another half cup to full cup of water. The water will keep absorbing so keep adding water every few minutes. At this point, I also added 1 green chili that I chopped up into little pieces.

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Step 11.
Keep your stove at a medium level and cover the pan. Do not cover it completely but leave the lid a little open so there is air coming through. Remember to keep checking up on your chicken curry and mixing constantly. If the water is absorbed, keep adding more water, a half a cup at a time.

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Step 12.
While your chicken is cooking, drain your rice.

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Step 13.
In another pot, add in your rice and enough water to JUST cover the rice, 3 bay leafs and the rest of your black cloves and cardamoms. Close the lid and keep on low to medium heat for about 10 minutes. Keep checking on your rice to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.

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Step 14.
Once your rice is complete, it’s time to layer your rice and chicken. Take some rice out and put it in a big bowl. The first layer is rice, then add all of your curry chicken on top.

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Step 15.
Then add another layer of rice to coat the chicken. On top of that, add your sliced lemons and some chili’s.
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Step 16.
Coat the lemon slices with some more white rice. Then add food some food coloring to the mixture. I mixed this food coloring powder with some water and spooned it over the rice.

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Step 17.
After adding your food coloring, put the lid back on and leave on low for about 15-20 minutes. Although everything is already cooked, you want the flavors to incorporate with one another and let the food coloring soak into the rice. After about 20 minutes, thoroughly mix everything together and voila! You have Chicken Biryani!

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Now, there are a lot of items that our mom’s usually add into Biryani but we just didn’t have them at home! Some of those items may include: Tomatoes, Plain Yogurt, Mint Leaves, Coriander Leaves and even Cilantro. I just did this with what I had at home. I hope that this step by step process helps you to make some delicious spicy Biryani at home. Remember, if you do not want it to be as spicy as mine, lessen some ingredients!

Enjoy!