Okra…Made Easy and Tasty! (I PROMISE!!!)

IMG_0390 As a kid, I used to hate okra, my mom used to make those long 2-3 inch okra and I would hate it, I thought it was slimy and gooey and I would not eat it. THEN, I discovered mini okra and my relationship with okra was revived. And I love making stews for my daughter because she gets in all of her food groups, especially vegetables, without struggling to get her to eat it. I love my okra recipe, it’s quick and simple. There are actually 3 ways to make it, with lamb or beef, with chicken, or without any meat vegetarian style. Today, I chose to make it with chicken, I like to watch my red meat intake, so replacing red meat with chicken works great! IMG_0349 Instead of boiling the chicken, I use boneless breast or thing, cut it up, sautee it and then add it to the stew after I’ve sauteed the okra, onions, and garlic. My sister was hesitant to try chicken in a stew, but once she did, she was hooked. IMG_0352 And make sure to let it all simmer for at least 10-15 minutes so that all of the flavors can mend together and create an amazing tasting sauce. I’ve recently started adding 1 tablespoon of sugar to my tomato based stews, I took that tip from the Italians, it really does help to level the flavor of the sauce and balance the acidity, I LOVE IT! IMG_0390 Serve it with some fluffy rice and you have a well balanced meal. It’s great for weekday meals because it is quick and easy, and you can even prep it the night before. And I like to make a lot of it so that it lasts for 2 nights worth of dinner. Recipe: http://dedemed.com/mediterranean/bamia-okra-stew/

Looking for YUMMY Complex Carbs???

IMG_0019 Well there is a perfect dish that combines complex carbs and proteins…it’s called mujaddara, it’s lentils and bulgar wheat with A LOT of FLAVOR!!!! It’s a simple easy recipe that you can whip together in under 30 minutes. IMG_0021 The yummy caramelized onions give this dish the pretty redish brown color and nutty flavor, And then you top it off with more caramelized onions, it’s just heaven! I love eating this with my tzatziki sauce, or my cucumber & tomato salad, or even with a simple cabbage salad. You will love this dish, it’s great for lunch, dinner, or even a side dish. Best of all it’s VEGAN and VEGETARIAN so you are winning on all ends of the spectrum…if there was a perfectly balanced dish, then this mujaddara dish is it! IMG_0019 Here’s the recipe: http://dedemed.com/mediterranean/mujaddara-hamra-recipe/

Your Quick Easy Meal for the Week!

8E1FFC8F-E162-4DBB-B554-CB8F93D1019B Sometimes you just don’t know what to cook, but you’re looking for something hearty and filling…cereal is definitely not going to do that, and neither is a sandwich…but this recipe definitely can. It’s called kefta bil sanieh, which technically translates to ground meat in a pan, but it is sort of a layered casserole. The video for this recipe is up on my youtube, but the written recipe is not up on my site yet, so here it is: 1lb ground beef (you can use ground lamb or ground chicken instead if you prefer) 1 cup yellow or white onion finely minced 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp black pepper 5 large potatoes peeled 2 TB olive oil 1/2 tsp salt 1 16oz can plain tomato sauce 2 TB tomato paste 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp black pepper 1/2 tsp garlic powder 1/2 tsp onion powder 1 TB sugar 4 cups water Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. So first what you want to do is to mix the beef, onion, salt, and pepper, then flatten in out in a large deep casserole dish. Place that in the oven for 15 minutes. Next, toss the potatoes with the olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt, lay them flat on a baking sheet and place them in the oven for 15 minutes as well. I usually put the casserole dish and baking pan in the oven at the same time. In a large pot, add the tomato sauce, paste, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, sugar, and water and bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat. E0447865-644F-4D82-93E7-5348FECB4875 (1) Sometimes when I think the ground meet layer is to thick, I’ll ball up the left over meat into fingerlike shapes and add it to the pan. Essentially, you can shape all of the meat to balls, or fingers, or leave it flat, I’ve seen it done all 3 ways. Now it’s time to assemble the dish, add the potatoes on top of the meat, then pour the sauce evenly over the entire dish. For added flavor and design, you can thinly slice some tomatoes and add that on top as well. Place the casserole dish in the oven and let that bake for another 20 minutes so that all the flavors can merrily mend. E0393776-3242-412E-A238-76C8A66B6F2B (1) Serve with my vermicelli rice and a side of Greek yogurt and you’re done! 8E1FFC8F-E162-4DBB-B554-CB8F93D1019B It’s a simple and easy recipe, my kids and husband love it and it’s so simple to make!

Easiest Chicken Meatballs!!!!

7305F789-554C-49D0-9293-33005DE02774 One of my favorite go-to recipes is chicken meatballs. They’re so juicy and flavorful, and what’s best is you can eat them in a sub, you can eat them on their own with a salad, or you can eat them with pasta…they’re just amazing. Writing about them makes me want to make them right now! So here’s the recipe, it’s super easy (as are all of my recipes) and quick to make.
2 cups finely chopped mushrooms
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves minced
1 TB butter
2 TB olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat a large pan over medium heat, add the butter, olive oil, mushrooms, onions, garlic, and salt, stir them all together and let them cook for 5-7 minutes, then set aside to slightly cool.
1 1/2 lb ground chicken
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 TB Italian seasoning, or substitute with 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 TB olive oil
In a large bowl, add all of the above ingredients except the olive oil, then add the cooked mushroom mixture to this and combine. I live to wear gloves when I handle any meat, and it makes it less sticky. Make sure to combine well. Next you want to shape your meatballs. I like to line a plate with plastic wrap and then spray it with olive oil spray so that the meatballs don’t stick to the plate. you can make the meatballs any size you want, but I generally make them the size of a golf ball.
Ok, so now you’re ready to cook them. Preheat a nonstick pan on medium heat, then add the 2 TB of olive oil. Add the meatballs and cover, let cook for about 3-4 minutes, then gently turn over the meatballs. You want to try to brown all of the sides of the meatball. Total cook time should be about 12 minutes, which is 3-4 minutes on each side. Next, to the same pan that the meatballs are cooking in, you want to add a jar of your favorite pasta sauce or marinara sauce. I love the Trader Joe’s brand organic marinara sauce for this. Let the sauce and meatballs simmer for 10 minutes on low heat. Lastly, you want to top them off with your favorite cheese, I prefer either provolone, or havarti.
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And that’s it, you’re going to eat the best tasting meatballs you’ve ever had. The mushroom mixture keeps the meatballs moist and juice. You can even use this same recipe for beef or lamb meatballs.

Yellow Watermelon????

IMG_1216 Has anyone every seen yellow watermelon? I was hesitant to buy it at first, and my daughter even went “yuck” when I cut it open. But then I tasted it, it tasted better than the pink watermelon!!! So I forced her to try it, and she LOVED it!!! Yes! I do force my child to try everything at least once, then if she doesn’t like the taste she doesn’t have to eat it. BUT I found that 9 times out of 10 she ends up liking it and eating it. I’m with the the parenting style that MOM’s know best, and my child will NOT dictate to me, I will dictate to her. IMG_1216 Sorry, I went off topic…so If you find an oddly colored fruit, like this yellow watermelon, don’t be afraid to give it at try!

A Pleasantly Sweet Eggless Cake!

When I think of eggless cakes, I think of a dense brownie like cake, because how can you make a “real” cake without eggs, right? Â Wrong! Â There is this amazing yellow cake called Sfoof that my mom always makes. You can also find it at many Lebanese, Greek, Turkish, and even Albanian bakeries! Â It’s really simple to make with only a few ingredients, but it’s fluffy, sweet and tastes great with tea! IMG_0962 The thing that makes this cake yellow is the turmeric that’s added to it. It’s added for flavor and for color. And recently all of the amazing health benefits of turmeric, make this cake even more popular. IMG_0963 I like to sprinkle pine nuts on top, but if you don’t like nuts you can leave them off, or you can use walnuts or pecans instead. I let it cool completely before cutting it up. Â And it’s so simple to make when you’re in a pinch and you need a quick fast dessert. IMG_0967 I learned a trick from my mom to make sure that the top of the cake stays glossy, right when you take it out of the oven, spray it with some olive oil or vegetable spray, it will give it a nice shine. Â Give this cake a try, you will surprisingly love it, and it’s eggless for those with egg allergies. Â And don’t forget the tea! Click here for the recipe!

Soothing Sunday Dinners

In my house, we keep Sunday activities to a minimum. I know a lot of people walk around saying “Sunday Funday” for for us Sunday is sit on the couch day, LOL. We do all our activities on Friday afternoons and Saturday’s. But, I also like to make a nice meal on Sunday, a nice meal with minimal work that is. So this past Sunday I opened up the freezer, as I usually do, and thought “hmmmm what can I make that’s easy but filling”…and there I saw my premade Kibbeh that I had put in the freezer a month ago, CHAÂ CHING!!!! LIFE SAVER!!!! I hade a pan of kibbeh and some kibbeh footballs. IMG_0747 I got a bit fancy in my kibbeh pan design, I saw my mom do it this way once and it looked great. IMG_0748 And my kibbeh balls, although I hate to make them because they’re more work, I did it because my daughter loves them this way and she loves kibbeh with laban (yogurt sauce), so I did a whole bunch and then froze them, that way they were ready any time. I also had bought a bunch of parsley the day before hoping to make tabouli one day and I figured, that was the day. I also had some cheese rolls in the freezer. So I put the menu together, tabouli, hummus, labne plate, kibbeh in the pan, fried kibbeh, cheese rolls, and some french fries. Now, I know that sounds like a lot but the work was really minimal, except for the tabouli. The hummus takes 5 minutes to make, the labne was already in the fridge, I just had to peel and slice the potatoes. The kibbeh pan went into the oven and I just had to fry up the cheese rolls, kibbeh balls, and french fries. And the tabouli took about 15 minutes to prep, so all in all, it took me about 35 minutes in prep time, not bad for a Sunday dinner. FullSizeRender (1) The fries got cut out of the picture, but I’m sure you guys know what fries look like. Â You can find all of these recipe on my site. Â And just remember that when you have some free time, do some prep work and throw it in the freezer for a day when you don’t really want to work hard at putting together a great meal! That way you can enjoy your Sunday Sit on the Couch Day!  

Chicken Skewers…a great idea for the BIGGEST BBQ weekend of the year!

So July 4th is only a few days away and it’s time to plan your menu. Now, I’m all for hamburgers and hotdogs, they’re a menu must, but it’s also nice to offer an alternative. How about chicken skewers (shish tawook)!?!?! Â The recipe and marinade is simple and you can find it on my site under shish tawook. IMG_0776 And I discovered something this last time that I made this recipe, I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs…WOW what a difference! The meat was super juicy and flavorful, it’s a great alternative to breast meat, which can sometimes be tricky for some people to cook it without overcooking it. Â Using thigh meat is pretty much fool proof because your meat is sure to be moist! IMG_0779 Another great tip when doing any type of skewer is to put in foil when you take it off the grill, that way it will stay moist and not dry out. Â You’re sure to impress with this recipe, and best of all you and marinade it the day before and it will be even more flavorful! Â Happy FOURTH!!!! Click here for the recipe:Â http://dedemed.com/mediterranean/shish-tawook-recipe-skewered-chicken/

Yesterday I did something I HATE to DO!

There are not many things that I force myself to do, if I don’t like doing them. Â But there are a few exceptions…ROLLING GRAPE LEAVES!!!! Â I hate rolling grape leaves, it’s so tedious, and my shoulders/neck hurt when I’m done. Â BUT the payoff is so rewarding. I LOVE LOVE LOVE grape leaves!!! I especially love when my mom sends me a tupperware full of already rolled grape leaves…but she didn’t have any ready for me the last time I was in Michigan. So I decided yesterday that I had to do it myself!

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So I set up my rolling station, and I like to wear gloves when I roll grape leaves. Â Now, let me warn you, when you start, it may seem like you will never finish rolling and you look over and you see that you have only rolled 12 grape leaves. Â But eventually you get through it. I found that if I put something interesting to watch, it goes by faster. And if you can find someone to help you, you’ll be done in a blink of an eye. I remember being a kid and helping my mom roll grape leaves, at that time I thought it was so much FUN!

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I finally have my tupperware full of nicely rolled grape leaves…although I think my mom rolls them half the size of the ones that I roll, I was happy with my work. Â I decided to save these for a nice dinner and freeze them, plus I didn’t have any nice fatty flap meat to layer in between the leaves, I feel like that’s a must with ending up with flavorful and juicy grape leaves. Â But if you have some time and you love grape leaves like I do, then I would say commit to it and start rolling! IMG_6045 (1)   AND don’t forget, there are 2 different grape leaf recipes on my site, one vegetarian grape leaf and one meat and rice grape leaves.

What to take with you when you’re invited to Lunch/Dinner

Baklava I’m a firm believer that you should never go to any ones house empty handed.  My mom taught me that and it’s stuck with me. Even my husband now remembers to always take something with him.  AND it doesn’t mean that you have to go out and buy something!!! Now, everyone LOVES hummus, so I find it easy to whip up a batch of hummus, put it in a nice tupperware, drizzle it with some olive oil and paprika and take it with me. If I happen to have pita bread or pita chips, I’ll take those along too. Or if you’re invited to lunch, you can just take it in a tupperware and then serve it in a nice plate when you get there, just don’t forget to take your garnish with you, and just let that person know that you’re bringing hummus and if they have some olive oil to spare. I mean, you don’t want olive oil spilling all over your car.  You can even get fancy and make a different flavored hummus, check out the variety of different recipes on my site.  Best of all, hummus is great as a snack, a side dish, or an appetizer. IMG_6052 (1) If you’re looking for something to take with you that’s more along the salad/fresh angle, then I’d shoot for a caprese salad.  It’s fresh, light, and super easy to assemble with minimal ingredients.  You can actually buy the ingredients and take them with you to put together when you get there.  You need fresh mozzarella that stored in water/brine, or if you can find buffalo mozzarella that would be even better. Then you need some good firm, yet ripe, red tomatoes.  Find some fresh basil, but if you can’t find fresh basil, look for ready made pesto.  You’ll need some good extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and if you like a reduced balsamic vinegar.  Some people like vinegar with their caprese salad and some don’t. I like to drizzle a little bit of reduced balsamic vinegar on top.  Just slice up the tomatoes and mozzarella and layer them nicely on a plate, if you have fresh basil leaves then layer that in too, drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and that’s it! IMG_8790 And if you’re looking  to take a dessert that will impress, then I’d go for some baklava. It’s not hard to make and you can really get creative and show off your baking skills.  There are a few different types of baklava, depending on what you like. Some people like to use walnuts, some like to use pecans, or peanuts, or even cashews.  You can add chocolate, or even cinnamon to the baklava layers.  You can top with pretty green ground pistachios, or leave it without.  Either way you make it, I’m sure everyone will be impressed. IMG_9942 Find all these recipes at www.DedeMed.com  

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