Madison: White Jasmine Cooking Class at Madison Public Library

This past spring, Madison Public Library hosted a series of cooking classes with White Jasmine. I was able to sign up for two of the classes and had a great time at both. The classes were aimed toward learning how to cook a variety of Pakistani food. I really enjoy all food, especially food with a lot of flavor and spice, so I was really excited to get an idea of how I could make some tasty food for myself.

During the second lesson that I attended (the final lesson in the series) the class focused on vegetarian cooking. I personally prefer to have a meat dish with every meal but it was fun to learn how to cook some alternative meals options such as chickpeas and zucchini. Though they were intended to be vegetarian main courses, both could be eaten as a side dish.

When we arrived at the library, we walked into a room set up to view a cooking demonstration. At the front of the room were several ingredients, spices, and cooking tools. Each seat had a copy of each recipe that was being prepared as well as a survey for everyone to complete toward the end of the program.

White Jasmine Cooking Class Madison Public Library

After everyone arrived, the organizer of the event said a few words. Huma Siddiqui then took over the show. She explained to us that she had moved to Wisconsin from London and was startled by the lack of flavor and spices used in American cooking. She started to share her recipes and cooking experience and began to teach cooking classes in the Madison area. The spices are for sale on their website and at Woodman’s grocery stores.

 

While she was sharing her background, she began to prepare the meal. First, she started to prepare the lentils, then the chickpeas, and finally the zucchini. She did a great job giving tips about each dish to us and answering questions while the food was cooking. For those of us who weren’t familiar with all of the spices that were being used, she passed around the jars (which are a product that she sells) which allowed us to see and smell each one. We also had the recipes in front of us so that we could take notes on how to properly prepare the food for ourselves at home.

After the food was ready, we got to do the fun part. We all lined up and were able to eat as much of the food as we wanted. Everything was incredibly delicious, and I was especially in love with the chickpeas. I went back for seconds.. and thirds! It was hard to eat the chickpeas because they were incredibly spicy due to the chili pepper, but that certainly didn’t stop me from eating as much of the delicious food as I could.

Madison Public Library will be hosting another set of these cooking classes this fall and registration is currently open. The classes are also periodically available throughout the community at a low cost and information about upcoming classes can be found on the White Jasmine website.

IMG_4454.JPG

I haven’t yet had the chance to make one of these recipes, but I am pretty sure the chickpeas would be a great fall meal. I also really enjoyed attending this class with my mom and one of my friends, it is a fun way to try out something new in our community.

Advertisements

June Instagram Memories

June was a wonderful month for me. I tried to keep myself busy by doing the things that make me happy and did a fairly good job of it.

Early in the month I took a trip to Devil’s Lake for hiking, which crossed an item off of my summer 2017 bucket list. We had an amazing time and really enjoyed the views and exercise. I highly recommend an evening hike at Devil’s Lake if you have the opportunity!

FullSizeRender-1.jpg

Click on the picture if you’d like to see more pictures from the trip

I also developed my new found interest in ice cream with not one but TWO trips to the ice cream shop with my little brother. Summer time brother time is my favorite. I love that he doesn’t have school and I can take him wherever I want whenever.

FullSizeRender-2.jpg

Toward the end of the month I saw one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life. I came out of the gas station to see a double rainbow forming. Instead of continuing on, I decided to sit in the parking lot and watch it. It kept getting brighter and stronger and ended up being so incredibly beautiful that I was nearly in tears.

It was so cool seeing all of the people come out of the stores to look at the rainbow and my mom drove over to where I was to look at it with me. It was amazing. We need more beautiful rainbows in America.

FullSizeRender-3.jpg

I posted on Instagram 18 times. I feel like I don’t post on there very often so I am trying to make more of an effort. Personally I hate the new algorithm that shows you the top posts instead of every post.. It’s super annoying and makes it much less fun to use. Whatever. Here are my June memories.

FullSizeRender.jpg

FullSizeRender-4.jpg

Feel free to follow me on instagram @jenrazzle if you would like to see my posts on a regular basis 🙂

Recipe Review: Unicorn Bars

I received a recipe for unicorn bars in my email last week and figured I should try it out. The internet keeps telling me that unicorns are a thing and who am I to pass up a delicious, colorful treat?

I shared the recipe with a friend and we decided to try it out during our monthly cooking date. We had originally planned to make a sweet chili tofu recipe but ended up going in completely the opposite direction health-wise due to time constraints.

We started making the bars after 9pm and it was probably one of the latest cooking parties I’ve ever attended. We didn’t buy any sprinkles specifically for this project but instead used a pre-mix of colorful sprinkle balls that my friend had on hand.

IMG_3986.PNG

The beautiful mixture was a nice prequel of the cuteness to come.

After everything was mixed, we put it in the pan. It was very difficult to spread, so we had a nice shake shake shake dance party and there were some heavy pounding noises.

We cut the bars into pieces that would be big enough for the frosting – they turned out super adorable.

We used the frosting recipe that was included and added in blue food coloring. We only needed one tablespoon of milk, and the frosting turned out perfect and delicious.

After we were done decorating our goodies, we took a few selfies before diving into the required taste tests.

If you’re looking for a delicious treat that is 100% a wonderful addition to a selfie or your Instagram account, unicorn bars are a definite option. I personally did not love the sugar load, but they were super tasty and would definitely cure any sweet tooth needs. However, keep them safe if you have any men around. 2/3 of our unicorn bars were devoured by the men in our lives. Without permission.

Ready for the recipe? Here it is (from dearchrissy.com)

INGREDIENTS:

For the bars

  • 1 Box vanilla cake mix
  • 1 small box instant vanilla pudding (just pour the powdered mix in your bowl)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons sprinkles

For the frosting

  • ⅓ cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
  • assorted sprinkles of your choosing!

DIRECTIONS:

For the bars

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine cake mix, pudding, water, vegetable oil, eggs, chips and sprinkles in large bowl. I used a wooden spoon to stir.
  3. Pour the batter (it’s going to be thick) into a 9×13 pan lined with foil and sprayed with non- stick cooking spray.
  4. Bake your bars for 20-30 minutes (I took mine out at 25.) Bake just until the middle isn’t wobbly and edges are golden brown.
  5. Cool completely then lift out of the pan using the foil.

For the frosting

  1. Using an electric mixer beat together the butter and powdered sugar until well blended and smooth. Beat in the vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the milk. If necessary beat in  the remaining milk a little at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  2. Add several drops of gel food coloring to frosting and stir.
  3. I piped some frosting on the middle of each bar, but, you could alternatively spread onto the cooled bars and decorate with additional sprinkles.

Interested in trying this out yourself? Let me know how it goes! I want to see your color combinations and decorating skills.

 

Recipe Review: Cabbage Fat Burning Soup

One of my all-time favorite recipes has a ridiculous name: “Cabbage fat burning soup.” Fortunately, this name makes the recipe really easy to find when I haven’t thought about it in ages. I don’t remember how I first came across this recipe – probably during some search for a healthy meal in the early ages of interneting, but it has been a favorite ever since.

unnamed.jpg

The recipe is mainly veggies, but added tomato juice and beef broth elevate the flavor and make it quite hearty. Since the recipe is so gigantic, one batch lasts for ages. You can switch it up by adding extra pepper, chili flakes, or hot sauce depending on your mood. I like to cook a batch, put it in the fridge, and enjoy it for lunches/dinners throughout the week. If I get tired of it or am feeling extra hungry, I will add quick protein to the side – usually rotisserie chicken. I don’t remember whether or not this recipe had the desired “fat burning” impact that the title claims, but you really can’t go wrong given the amount of veggies that are in each serving.

The recipe is rather straight forward, so I am copying/pasting directly from allrecipes.

Ingredients
5 carrots, chopped
3 onions, chopped
2 (16 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, with liquid
1 large head cabbage, chopped
1 (1 ounce) envelope dry onion soup mix
1 (15 ounce) can cut green beans, drained
2 quarts tomato juice
2 green bell peppers, diced
10 stalks celery, chopped
1 (14 ounce) can beef broth

Directions
Place carrots, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, green beans, peppers, and celery in a large pot. Add onion soup mix, tomato juice, beef broth, and enough water to cover vegetables. Simmer until vegetables are tender. May be stored in the refrigerator for several days.

While the recipe is quite simple, I did make a couple of small improvements.

  • Since I hate cutting carrots, I bought pre-cut carrot “coins” and added in three cups worth.
  • I bought chopped peeled tomatoes with liquid rather than the whole version. There is no point to buying the whole version because there is no circumstance where it is pleasant sticking an entire mushy tomato into your mouth.
  • Buy low-sodium canned ingredients. I am the biggest salt lover of them all but I am currently working on reducing my sodium intake. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done because I genuinely enjoy the taste of ocean water, but you do not need the extra salt in the green beans, tomato juice, or beef broth. If you are really missing the extra sodium when the soup is completed, you can always add a bit of salt in.

In addition to making a few ingredient changes, I also cooked this in the crock pot rather than in a pot on the stove. This is mainly because I did not have a pot that was large enough at home and also because I was hoping to throw everything in, run errands and come home to completed soup. Unfortunately the soup took much longer to cook than I was expecting (I blame the cabbage) and after five hours of cooking on high, I turned the temperature to low and left it on all night. It is possible to cook it in the crock-pot, just don’t expect it to be done as anywhere near as quickly as it would be on the stove.

That’s about it! I’m super excited to enjoy my soup for lunch and dinner today.. And tomorrow.. And everyday this week. And to share some with my family!

Please let me know if you end up making this recipe – and pass along any recipe variations or tasty additions!

Want to read more of my recipe reviews, tips and tricks? Visit my “diet” section.

Recipe Review: Pad Grapow (Cravings by Chrissy Teigen)

I recently took a look at Goodreads’ list of the best cookbooks of 2016 and put a few of them on hold. I got into cookbooks when I worked at the public library during college, but since it’s rare that I want to make every recipe in a single book, I usually check the books out from the library and save the recipes with the most potential. Cravings by Chrissy Teigen was one of those books.

I took a look through the book today and decided to make Pad Grapow Chicken, which is Thai basil chicken. I was looking for a recipe that would be on the healthy side, delicious, and still easy to cook. This recipe has relatively few ingredients, was something new, and looked like something my family would enjoy. After a quick stop at the grocery store, I got to work.

1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
5 cloves of garlic
1 serrano chile
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups fresh basil leaves
Cooked rice for serving

In a bowl, toss the chicken with the oyster sauce and soy sauce and marinate for 10 minutes. Mash the garlic and chile until finely smashed.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic-chile mix and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Increase the heat to high, add the chicken, and cook, stirring, until just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add the basil and cook until wilted, about 1 minute.

Serve over rice.

A couple of notes –

  1. If you aren’t familiar with oyster sauce, don’t be put off by the name! It is a brown, salty sauce that is commonly used in Chinese food. It does not taste like fish.
  2. I used a garlic press for the garlic cloves and serrano. It worked perfectly. You could also cut into tiny bits, you mostly want the flavor to come out and add to the taste of the chicken.
  3. If you aren’t comfortable using a serrano, a slice of mild green pepper would add the flavor without the kick.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Definitely check out the cookbook – whether it’s from your local library or by purchasing – there are quite a few tasty looking recipes (and pictures – John Legend, mmm) inside!