Brown butter blueberry muffins

September 1, 2013 § Leave a comment


Do you have a blueberry muffin recipe?  I mean, your blueberry muffin recipe–the one you always turn to should the craving strikes. Not me.  Blueberry muffins recipes are like banana bread and chocolate chip cookies–they are all so different, I can’t really rely on one favorite. It all depends on my mood. Rakesh is different though, and when he likes something, it’s so hard to get him to break tradition  This can lead to confusion, especially when he requests something (like the best blueberry muffin ever) and I have no idea which recipe he’s talking about.

So when he asked me two weeks ago to make “those moist blueberry muffins.  You know, the ones that look like Otis Spunkmeyer, but are so much better,” I had no idea what he was referring to.  Was it the Barefoot Contessa?  Magnolia Bakery?

I decided to go with Joy the Baker because I love a struesel-y topping.  Turns out, the hubby does too!

Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins Adapted from Joy the Baker Cookbook by Joy Wilson

Makes 12 muffins

For the Muffins:

  • 7 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

For the Topping:

  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbs sugar

Preheat oven to 190 (375F).  Grease a muffin pan and set aside.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  I like to swirl the pan around so the butter doesn’t burn.  It will start to crackle and separate as the water cooks out of the butter.  Once the crackling slows, the butter will brown pretty quickly.  Remove from the heat once it turns as deep amber color and smells slightly nutty,  Pour the browned butter in a small bowl to prevent it from cooking further in the hot pan.

Whisk buttermilk, egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined.  Slowly add the cooled brown butter and whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  add the wet mixture all at once to the flour mixture an d stir to combine.  It will be fairly stiff, so carefully fold in the blueberries.  Scoop into prepared muffin pan.

To make the topping, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and rub together with your fingers until crumbly.  Sprinkle the topping evenly over the muffin batter.

Bake for 18-20 minutes in the oven until golden and crisp.  Cool muffins in the pan for 15 minutes before removing.


Citrus butter cookies

August 22, 2013 § Leave a comment


Rakesh will probably tease me to death after reading this post because just last night I was complaining about how difficult it’s been to lose the last six pounds of my pregnancy weight. Ahem. But I couldn’t let another summer go by without making these cookies. It just seems too inappropriate to let the recipe linger past the warmer months ( although in Dubai, the heat can go well into October. So who am I kidding?).

They are just what the name implies: citrusy and buttery. And I mean bring on the butter, baby. Butter and sugar mix with copious amounts of orange, lemon, and lime for a treat that says, “I don’t taste as guilty as I sound…”

Now if I’m honest, I will say that one of the reasons I’ve been avoiding these cookies, delicious as they are, is because of the glaze. I absolutely hate working with icing (confectioners) sugar. It gets everywhere. Even the air feels sticky. So I adapted the recipe to minimize the mess. I also have learned to sift the sugar over a bowl in my sink to try to contain the inevitable tuft of fine powder getting everywhere.

Citrus Butter Cookies slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier by Ree Drummond

I found that this recipe created around 3 dozen cookies.  I baked a dozen, then formed a log out of the remaining dough on parchment paper, and froze it for slice and bake cookies later.

For the Cookies

  • 4 sticks of butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 Tbs orange, lemon, and lime zest (1 Tbs each)
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs orange, lemon, and lime juice (total)

For the Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • splash of whole milk
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 teaspoon of egg white
  • Extra zest, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and light.  Add the egg yolks and mix until combined.  Add the 3 tablespoons of citrus zest.  Add the flour and salt and mix until combined.  Finally, add the 2 tablespoons of juice and miz until dough is formed.  Scoop out heaping teasoons of the dough, then roll them into balls and place on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 12-13 minutes then allow to cool completely on a cookie rack.

To make the icing, combine all the icing ingredients and whisk thouroughly to desired consistency.  If it’s too runny, add more sugar.  Too thick?  More juice or milk.  Drizzle the icing across the cookies and sprinkle zest before the icing sets.

Apricot breakfast crisp

August 14, 2013 § Leave a comment


There’s this unwritten rule that whenever I purchase furniture from IKEA, I have to assemble it twice:

The first time, I assemble it the way I think it should go together.  The second time, I read all the instructions all the way through, then assemble it while following the over simplified illustrations.  I don’t know why I cant just go through step-by-step the first time and save myself loads of precious time (it’s hard to do anything with my sweet little girl awake and vying for my attention).  Does this happen to anyone else?

Obviously this happened to me today as I tried to put together a cabinet for our office (i.e. the corner of our bedroom, where the desk and computer are).  All this while dealing with a baby that can’t sleep unless I rock her to the brink of a coma, and is crying for her nap.

Thank goodness I’m not as careless in the kitchen.  I read and re-read recipes before I intend to make them.  I delve into cookbooks as though they were novels, carefully reading every cooking note and ingredient list.

You might know that I am currently in the midst of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman of  She is a fantastic blogger and amazing cook.  All of her recipes are delicious and easy to follow, with simple methods and ingredients.  Perfect for this mommy!  I got the book last Saturday and have already cooked five recipes.  The one I’m sharing today is her Apricot Breakfast Crisp.  I mixed it together in, literally, five minutes the otherday then into the oven for another 30.  I wasn’t sure how I would like it cold, but it is even better!

Apricot breakfast crisp from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

For the fruit

  • 1 pound apricots (about 8-9)
  • 2 Tbs turbinado sugar
  • 1 Tbs all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

For the topping

  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbs sliced almonds
  • Yogurt, to serve

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (205 celsius).  Pull apart the apricots at their seam, remove the pits, and tear them one more time, into quarters.  Place the fruit in a small baking dish.  Stir in the sugar, flour, and nutmeg

Melt the butter in a small saucepan, and stir in the sugar, followed by the oast, then the flour, and finally the salt and almonds until large clumps form.  Sprinkle the mixture over the fruit.  Bake for about thirty minutes.  Eat warm or chilled with a scoop of your favorite yogurt.

Jalapeño cheddar guacamole chicken burgers

August 7, 2013 § 1 Comment


Sophia is finally sleeping again during nap time and bed time. To say I’m relieved would be a vast understatement. I’m ecstatic!  The amount of time I have to myself again is so greatly appreciated, I’m starting to feel guilty about it. Shouldn’t I want her to be awake spending time with me?  Of course, I do have to hold her during eighty percent of nap time. Here’s the proof:


With her rediscovered love of sleep, I’ve made ice cream, pita bread, oat bread, installed furniture, and experimented with these burgers. Because Rakesh doesn’t eat beef, we typically have two types odd burgers–lamb rosemary burgers, and chicken scallion burgers. He’s a bit of a flavor fanatic and once he tries something he likes, he’s wary of changing it up. Lamb burgers are always lamb and rosemary, chicken burgers are always chicken and scallions.  But this was different. It has jalapeños and cheese inside. And my favorite guacamole slathered on this light as air brioche burger buns.

Jalapeno Cheddar Chicken Burgers Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Makes 4 burgers

  • 500 grams ground chicken (I use light and dark meat)
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, minced
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbs pickled jalapeno, minced (if using fresh, use one whole jalapeno, seeded)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Divide into four patties.  Cook over medium high heat 4-5 minutes per side.


  • 2 ripe Hass avocados, cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs tomatoes, small dice
  • 2 Tbs yellow onion, small dice
  • 2 Tbs cilantro, minced
  • 1 green chili
  • Juice of 1 lime

Mash avocados lightly with a fork.  Stir in remaining ingredients until just combined, leaving chunks of avocado.  Season with salt and pepper.

Homemade chili powder

July 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

Let me begin by saying that this has been one of the MOST challenging weeks of motherhood for me.  I would say it has been a nightmare, but that would insinuate that I have been getting sleep–which I haven’t.  Sophia is growing up so fast and all the spoils of the first three months are coming to an end:  sleeping through the night, napping three hours in the day, watching reverently in her swing as mommy does some Tracy Anderson workouts.  What happened?!  I thought my baby was the most chilled out baby the world had ever seen.  So accommodating, so peaceful.  Now its like wrestling a bag of snakes to get her to lie down for bed time.  And keeping her asleep for more than three hours is nearly impossible.  Hopefully my restful and relaxing evenings will return to me soon.  In the meantime, there is homemade chili powder.

As I said last week, I’ve been searching high and low throughout Dubai for chili powder, of the tex-mex variety.  I normally get the cheap Walmart brand in the gallon size everytime we go to the US, but some new recipe favorites had me going through it at light speed.  My mom suggested that I try making my own and I actually, surprisingly had everything I needed to make it.  It is mostly dried chilis after all, and I was fortunate enough to have bought an insane amount out of the blue last March while in Florida.

I did a little research and discovered that chili powder recipes are very personal, addition of ingredients based on each individual’s tastes.  I have to admit, after tasting my first batch, I went back and added some more spices to get it just right.

Nihalani Chili Powder

3 Ancho Chilis

3 Pasilla Chilis

3 Guajillo Chilis

1 Tbs cumin seeds

1 Tbs coriander seeds

1 Tbs garlic powder

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp dried oregano

Take out the stem and seeds of the chilis.  Split them down the middle and lay them flat on a baking sheet.  Add the cumin and coriander, then toast in a 300 degree oven for 5-8 minutes.  Remove the pan and allow to cool.  Crush the chilis by hand into a spice grinder.  Add the cumin, coriander, garlic powder, paprika, and oregano, then pulse to a fine powder.  Makes about 1/2 cup.

I used mine to make these fantastic chicken enchiladas!


Chocolate cinnamon bagels

July 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

Sophia and I have spent the whole week at home recuperating from our vacation.  Actually, we are both getting over a cold which I’m pretty sure we got on the airplane ride home.  She got it first though…honestly.  While most of our time has been spent migrating from bed to couch to play mat to bed, I did get a chance to make some bagels (insert squeal of delight here).

You see, in Dubai, we don’t have bagels necessarily. We have Lender’s and we have bagel-shaped bread.  Rakesh loves bagels, though, and he settles on Lender’s for his fried egg breakfast sandwiches because, before our last trip to New York, he forgot what a good bagel tasted like.  Crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside, laced with your favorite flavors and a thick smear of cream cheese.

I remember going to Murray’s in Chelsea last March having just arrived in New York a couple hours prior.  It was to be our first meal.  I ordered an everything bagel with vegetable cream cheese and Rakesh ordered the same but with plain cream cheese and tomato.  We asked for them to be toasted and the guy behind the counter looked at us with disdain.  “No toaster here,” he said.  We both thought that was really weird, but once we bit in, we realized it didn’t need the toasting at all!

Which brings me to this bagel.  I’ve had a craving for cinnamon anything this week (I already made almond granola and cinnamon bread), and when I saw cinnamon raisin bagels on Annie’s Eats, I got super excited.  I started immediately, making the sponge, letting it rest, gathering ingredients.  Then I realized, I didn’t have any raisins.  I had dried cranberries, dried figs, dried cherries, dried tropical fruit trail mix, but no raisins.  I was about to add the cranberries, sure that I would regret their tartness, when I saw my big jar of semi sweet chocolate chips.  A perfect substitute!

The recipe called for quite a few steps, but it was so easy.  I was afraid of losing the chocolate chips in the boiling process (the water looked like hot cocoa after the first batch), but everything came out wonderfully.  With a smear of cream cheese, it was the perfect decadent morning start I wanted.



For the recipe go to Annie’s Eats

Another year, another Ramadan

July 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

This is my fourth Ramadan in Dubai and I’m still not used to not being able to eat outside. Last year, I was in the first trimester of my pregnancy so I pretty much slept through the entire holy month. Apart from the heat, it was pretty easy to ignore while passed out in bed. My husband used to come home from work and take pictures of me sleeping on the couch, mouth gaped wide, pillow between my knees. But this year, my little girl and I will get through it together. It’s way too hot to go outside, but we are both sick anyway after our holiday in Austria. It was Sophia’s first trip, and at only four months old she held up quite welI.


I always seem to pick up the blog during Ramadan…I guess there’s not much else to do.

I ran out of chili powder before we left too. It’s funny because in Dubai the “chili powder” they sell is actually cayenne pepper. I read somewhere that its called tex-mex powder here so I will have to check it out. Rakesh and I had our hearts set in chicken enchiladas on Thursday. Fingers crossed…

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