Updates!

In order to try and keep up to date with my blog, thought I would write a quick post this Saturday night before heading to bed.  It’s been a busy weekend, so there’s much to write!

First, and most importantly, I am lucky enough to have paid off my student loans! Sadly, wy father passed away in December, and there was some life insurance money that was disbursed to my sister and I. It was completely unexpected, but it is such a huge relief to pay off my student loans for ever. While we still have a very long way to go (my better half’s student loans are still quite large), this is a good step!

You may or may not remember, but this was actually a goal of mine in January. I actually feel a little guilty for not earning it, but this is a great gift, and I won’t look it in the mouth! (Er, or something like that right?) 🙂 Special thanks to my mom, who actually found out there was a life insurance policy from one of his former employers.

Second update, we finally got all moved in to the new house! It was exhausting, and D and I are both ridiculously sore from moving so much in two days! Luckily, there was no furniture, so we just used suitcases and bags to run things back and forth. The kitchen was the hardest part, but we got it done, and now we’ll do our walk through tomorrow at the old place and then we’re finished.

While every apartment has pros and cons, living in our new apartment has many more pros than the old place! Shorter commute, bigger kitchen, separate washer/dryer, storage space, and just more space in general, and even a backyard to grill out and hang out side in the winter 🙂

Pictures to come soon, just not yet! We are still in the process of unpacking….and I should have time this week to unpack, and get things situated so I can take some good pictures 🙂

Other than that, we are happy in our new house and looking forward to a shorter drive to work! And its only about 2 more weeks til our trip to Pittsburgh! I am pretty excited about the trip, and it will be great to see friends and family 🙂

Hope everyone has a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend! (I am jealous…we don’t get that here!)

Black bean, corn and pineapple enchiladas!

Doha has no shortage of good places to eat – everything from Indian to Iranian, Moroccan and Lebanese – but not much Mexican at all.  And its something that I crave often! ( I will definitely be stopping at El Campesino in Pittsburgh at some point – best tamales ever!).

I usually cook tacos or something at home weekly to solve that Mexican food craving.  When I found this, I knew I had to try it! Black beans and corn are a great combo, and the addition of pineapples intrigued me. I promise you, they are really good, don’t leave them out! ! Plus, I used medium enchilada sauce by accident, so these were spicy! I needed the sweetness of the pineapples and some sour cream to tame it down for me!

Don’t mind my terrible picture….I completely forgot to take it until after we had all ready started eating! (We were hungry!). Here’s what it looks like:

This recipe initially comes from Branny Boils Over, which is a great resource for me of vegetarian meals. (She cut back on the cheese and included carrots, to help make this recipe vegan).  I found it here, at Thyme for Nourishment, and she has a much better picture than I do! 🙂 Definitely try this recipe soon – its delicious, and you won’t miss the meat 🙂 This was so good, we re-heated it for dinner the next night, and polished it off! I’ll be making this again very soon!

Black Bean, Corn, and Pineapple Enchiladas
adapted from this recipe from Pillsbury

2 tsp vegetable oil
1 med red onion, diced (about 1 cup)  (* I used a regular yellow onion)
1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 20oz can of crushed pineapple drained well, 1/3 cup juice reserved
1 14.5oz can of black beans, drained, rinsed
1 cup of frozen corn (I used canned, and it was more than a cup)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3 1/2 cups shredded Mexican Blend cheese or Cheddar cheese
1 can enchilada sauce
8 flour tortillas (8 or 9 inch)

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until softened. Stir in pineapple, beans, corn, cayenne pepper and salt. Cook until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat and add 2 cups of cheese mixing well untill combined and cheese is melted.

Spoon and spread 1 tablespoon enchilada sauce onto each tortilla. Spoon 1/8 of the mixture over sauce and roll up tortillas. Place them seam side down in baking dish.

In measuring cup with reserved 1/3 cup pineapple juice add remaining enchilada sauce and mix well. Pour mixture evenly over enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining cup and half of cheese. Cover with foil.

As I mentioned, I enjoyed mine with some sour cream, but some salsa or taco sauce would also be delicious. Enjoy! 🙂

Update on moving into our new house!

As I mentioned earlier, we are going to be moving out of our 14th floor apartment in the West Bay,  and into a villa in a compound by Education City!

We were told it should be ready around the last week of May for us to move in.  So I contacted the housing department here, and they said it was cleaned and just about ready, and we could do a walk through this morning. We had seen the general layout, at least of the downstairs, from some of our friends houses.  (These villas are practically identical to each other).

However, we had not seen the storage space or the upstairs.  The storage space is a long narrow hallway, next to the stairs.  It is fabulous!  We barely have any storage space now, so this is awesome.  We can put our suitcases, Xmas tree, cleaning supplies and a bunch of other stuff there.  Also, we were able to confirm that we will have a real, separate washer and dryer!  I cannot tell you how happy this makes me!!!

Then we headed upstairs – the size of the rooms are phenomenal! I don’t have any specs, but let’s just say the Master Bedroom has two lounge chairs in it, along with a king bed, and it still looks empty! There is also a ton of closet space – which is good for all my clothes 😛 And the other bedrooms are quite large, along with the 3 bathrooms upstairs, and one downstairs.

They wanted to fix a few more things, but if all goes well, we will get the keys on Wednesday and move in this weekend! 😀 Can’t wait! I will take pictures once we get the keys and go there on our own, but in the mean time, here is the front door 🙂

Home sweet home! 🙂  Pictures to come this week/weekend hopefully!

The only pizza crust you’ll ever need…

So I know I just recently blogged about a pizza crust, but I tried a variation on that one and I just had to share! This is definitely my new favorite, go-to pizza crust.  It’s easy, delicious, and makes perfect pizza 🙂

A blogger that I follow tweaked  the Cooks Illustrated recipe that I blogged about here, and I think her changes make such  a difference! The blog I am talking about is The Way The Cookie Crumbles.  This is a really great blog – aside from making an amazing pizza dough, there a ton of good recipes, as well as comparisons between basic recipes to see which one is the best.  Here’s her pizza recipe I used – she has great pictures 🙂 She also has a good sauce recipe, and tips on how to many any dough whole wheat. You should definitely check it out!

So back to the pizza crust! First, I found bread flour at the store, which the recipe suggests using. I was really excited and surprised to find it , and it actually made the crust so crispy! (You can use AP flour, but your crust won’t be quite as crispy).  Also, this crust has wine in it.  Where can you go wrong?! I can’t say enough about this crust! Also, I don’t have a stand mixer, and this came together super quick and easy, and it rose perfectly.  I will be making more this weekend 🙂 We’re all out!

This time I made a BBQ chicken pizza – another one of our faves.  We use a fake chicken substitute, since we’re veggie, and it still came out great. This would be good with some red onions, but unfortunately, the red onions at the store looked awful. So we just had chicken, and it was still delicious 🙂

Try this pizza soon! I will be sticking with this recipe – its the best! It made 3 crusts, and I all ready used the other 2 when we were undecided what to make for dinner, we just pull the dough out of the freezer 🙂 I think this would also be great for calzones! Yum!

Here is the crust – before baking:

Here’s the pizza before it goes in the oven – with BBQ sauce, chicken, and plenty of cheese 🙂

And the finished product! Yum, let’s eat!

And finally, here’s the recipe! 🙂 Enjoy!!!

Traditional Pizza Crust

(Original Recipe by Cooks Illustrated, and adapted by The Way The Cookie Crumbles)

Dough:
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
22 ounces (4 cups) bread flour
1¾ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
¼ cup white wine
1½ cups water
cornmeal for dusting

1. For the dough: Heat the oil and oregano in a small saucepan until fragrant. Mix in the water and wine.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the liquid mixture. Continue mixing on medium-low speed until the dough comes together, and then knead on medium-low speed for 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour or water as necessary to form a dough that is sticky but does not cling to the sides of the bowl. When the mixer is running on medium-low speed, the dough should not stick to the bottom of the bowl.  (My Edit: I do not have a stand mixer and did this all by hand, and it still worked out just fine!)

3. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Rub your hands on the sprayed bowl to coat them with oil, then quickly form the dough into a ball. Place the ball of dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

4. Either set the dough aside to rise at room temperature, which will take 1½ to 2 hours, or refrigerate it until the next day. If it’s chilled overnight, it will take about 5 hours at room temperature to warm and finish rising. You can also reduce the yeast to ½ teaspoon and let the dough rise on the counter for about 8 hours after it has been chilled overnight.

5. Divide the dough and shape each portion into a ball. You have a few options of how to divide it. It makes enough dough for three 12-inch pizzas. I like to freeze the other two dough balls, after they have risen, and relaxed. Let the balls of dough relax for 10-30 minutes.

6. Work with one ball of dough at a time on a lightly floured surface. Flatten the dough, then pick it up and gently stretch it out, trying to keep it as circular as possible. Curl your fingers and let the dough hang on your knuckles, moving and rotating the dough so it stretches evenly. If it tears, just piece it together. If the dough stretches too much, put it down and gently tug on the thick spots. (These are the blogger’s tips, and they worked really well for my dough!)

7. Dust a pizza peel lightly with cornmeal and transfer the round of dough to the peel. Rearrange the dough to something reasonably circular; stab it several times with a fork. Add toppings of your preference, then transfer the pizza to a hot pizza stone. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is spotty brown. Let the pizza cool on the peel for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Sesame Noodles

These are so delicious!! Make them for dinner. Tonight. You won’t regret it!

This is not the first recipe I have tried from the  Pioneer Woman’s blog, and it won’t be the last! I know some people find it annoying, but I love Ree’s use of pictures of each step 🙂 So for some really good pictures of the sesame noodles, check out her blog! (And look around, she has a ton of other delicious recipes!)

This is all ready the second time I have made them and it has been added to the monthly rotation. I like the flexibility of this dish – you can add/subtract what ever you want!  Thanks to my friend Traci for the idea of adding edamame! I have all ready shared this recipe with other friends, so I thought I should blog the recipe for everyone else!

(Excuse my iPhone picture! I was too hungry to get out my Canon to take a good picture).

Sesame Noodles (as found on PW)

Serves 8

My changes/substitutions are in italics.

Ingredients
  • 12 ounces, fluid Thin Noodles, Cooked And Drained
  • ¼ cups Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons Pure Sesame Oil
  • ½ teaspoons Hot Chili Oil  (I omitted this, and substituted a sweet chili sauce instead)
  • 4 Tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Hot Water
  • 4 whole Green Onions, Sliced Thin (Omitted these too – could not find them!)
  • Mixed asian stir fry veggies (I added this, since I did not have the green onions)
  • Edamame (Also added these!)
  • Chopped peanuts (I added these as a garnish!)
Preparation Instructions

Whisk all ingredients (except noodles and green onions) together in a bowl. Taste and adjust ingredients as needed.
Pour sauce over warm noodles and toss to coat.
Sprinkle with green onions and toss.
Serve in a bowl with chopsticks. Yummy!

Edamame and other things!

People always ask me about things I miss from the USA.  For the most part, we are very lucky here and there is not much we cannot find!

Some of the things that are harder to find (or are not available) are:

Red hots or anything of hot cinnamon flavor like that

Pretzels

Bacon/Ham/Pork  (Can’t wait to have these when I am in Pgh!)

Marshmallows

Cornmeal (For cornbread!)

Edamame

Speaking of Edamame, I heard a rumour from some friends that they had it in the Japanese frozen section of Lulu Hypermarket – my favorite grocery store.  I searched the freezer aisles up and down, until I saw a section that had all Japanese characters on the packaging. And Voila! There it was!

Pretty funny huh? I was just glad to find it and know that I can snack it on here! 🙂

Aside from obviously missing family and friends, I also really miss having Trader Joe’s and a Target!  You don’t realize how great Target is until you are stuck with a Carrefour instead. (French version of Walmart/Target).  Not the same at all!

Looking forward to a trip to Pgh full of bacon, alcohol, friends and family! 🙂