Kurkuri Bhindi – Crunchy 3-Ingredient Okra

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There are certain Urdu words that I really enjoy saying, those that sound exactly like what they mean. Kurkuri, that delightful word for crunchy and crispy is one of them. The first time my daughter had this Kurkuri Bhindi she was 3 years old and we were visiting my parents in Karachi. Her Nano had made this bhindi and Zara upon trying them said “these sticks are yummy!” It then occurred to me that my daughter had never had Okra except for its cornmeal battered deep fried incarnation. As yummy as the Deep Fried Okra was that way it was far too much work (and oil) for my liking.
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Top 5s of 2014

I am not going to lie, I am weirdly excited about putting together these lists. Makes me feel all fancy like you know 🙂

It also makes me happy when I take a look back at the year that was and see all that love in one place. Thank you so much for popping by here when you do and cooking from my lil ol blog. Your visits, messages and emails keep me going (true story).

Even though I know the Beef Biryani and Anday Aalu ka Salan are fan faves so to speak for these round ups I am sticking to recipes posted in 2014. Hope you enjoy the year that was as much as I did!

First…*drumroll please* your top 5 from the recipes published in 2014…

 Chicken Ginger

Chicken Ginger

Haray Masalay ki Murghi (Chicken in a cilantro based gravy)

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Bhindi ki Sabzi (sauteed Okra)

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Chocolate Covered Salted Caramel Ice cream Stars

Chocolate Covered Salted Caramel Icecream Stars w Edible Gold Stars

Coffee Flecked Blondies

Coffee Flecked Browned Butter Blondies w White Chocolate Chunks

Then let’s take a quick look at my personal favorites shall we?

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies w Pistachios

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pistachios

Thai Noodle Salad

Go To Noodle Salad

Reduced Fat Spinach and Corn Mac and Cheese

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Spicy Shredded Beef

Spicy Shredded Beef or Bhuna Gosht

Chicken and Rice

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Thanks so much for all the love in 2014 and for your patience with my admittedly erratic blogging! You guys are so cool like that, I heart you 🙂

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A Tinkerbell Inspired Fairy Party

Guess what I did for my birthday this year?

I threw my daughter a Tinkerbell inspired Fairy Party…sorry I meant Fairy Gymnastics Party. In case you’re scratching your heads and wondering why I would do that, the answer is kinda boring – that’s just what was available at The Little Gym. Btw for those of you in the ‘hood I highly recommend these guys. All the girls had an awesome time and Mama was immensely grateful for the much needed help from their staff. Wonderful wonderful wonderful.

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Anyway, back to the party. Zara wanted a Tinkerbell Fairy Party for her birthday, but since I am not a huge fan of a lot of the premade Tinkerbell things I tried to keep a balance between overtly Disney things and handmade things. The birthday girl loved it all and I am so happy with how things turned out – minus the things that I forgot to put up *head thwack*.

Get ready for a fairly long post (mostly pictures).

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Invites: These were born of panic, my friends reminded me I needed to get cracking so I scoured my craft box and made these. I do like how they turned out and they were pretty easy to do as well.

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Wands: This was a pretty and inexpensive craft. The purple tissue used in the flowers, the dowels for the wand, and the stars on the ribbons are from the dollar floor. The ribbons are from that real fancy place called Wal Mart. I roughly measured (in handspans) how much ribbon I wanted and then cut 16 sets out in my 3 party colors – green, pink, purple. I stitched the three ribbons together with a thread and needle and then taped them on to the wand. Then on top went my purple paper flowers which were secured onto the wands with the same purple ribbon I used to make the paper flowers (tutorial here). Where it wasn’t as tight as I liked I added a little clear tape. And done.

IMG_6142_zpsfef92661Flower pots: I had scraps of green leftover from green buntings (which somehow didn’t get put up) so I held them in the center and wrapped the pink/purple streamers around them in such a way that the base was tighter and the top fuller. They aren’t fancy flowers, but they do the trick.

IMG_6148_zps3f03fbdc (1)Candy Napkin Rings: I first saw these here and they are so quick and easy!

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Food: The cake and wands merit another post (or so I would like to think), but in terms of food here is what I ended up with:
• Vanilla Cake (6-inch, 4 layers, 4 colours)
• Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
• Marshmallow Wands
• Tink on a Tea Cup Berries (All credit to the husband and pinterest 😉 )
• PIZZA – so clichéd, but the birthday girl loves it
• Sausage Rolls
• Chicken Sandwiches – Boiled Shredded Chicken with my homemade Peppercorn Mayo
• Jam Swirls
• Veggie Sticks
• Pretzels
• Homemade Butterfly Crackers

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 For the food labels I downloaded something from the internet and tweaked it to suit my purposes – all done in Word, nothing fancy. I am happy to pass them on to anyone who wants them.

Hmm let’s see what else …. oh right…

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• The Happy Birthday Banner was courtesy of my super awesome friend Vaish – you should get one of those… just not mine, I keep her busy 😉

IMG_6360_zpsecccbe2aWings – Another dollar store find, I was very worried that there would be some fighting over wings, but fortunately the girls didn’t get into it and a quick taping onto the back of standard plastic chairs really upped the prettiness.

IMG_2355Loot bags – I wanted something simple and whimsical and here is what I came up with. Inside the lootbags I put Disney Fairies watches, stickers, Nerds, a mini Crunch bar and a lollipop. The girls also got to take their wings and wands home.

• Not pictured, but used were this Tinkerbell Scene setter and Tinkerbell balloons.

So there you have it a Fairy party with a whole lot of Fairy and a little bit of Tinkerbell. Hope this gives you some good ideas for your own party – or at least the confidence that if I can do it so can you 🙂 Happy birthdaying!

 

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Three Things Thursday

Hello it’s me. I know, I know, I haven’t been Three Things Thursdaying much recently, but it has been a little chaotic round here. Thankfully I finally have the illusion of control if not control itself and so here I am back in the fray 🙂

Thing One: School

My big girl – hurts my heart when I think of her like that – is now in her second week of school. There were tears (mostly mine) and the unfinished lunches continue, but other than that she is so happy. It makes me a little sad to think that “mama zara days” are over and that my little coffee-croissant buddy will now be gone 5 days a week.

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Fortunately for me I have another little buddy to keep me company! When she goes to kindergarten I will probably lose it. lol

Thing Two: Red Baby Red

I don’t have a stand mixer. When I tell people that they are usually very surprised, but the fact is that I don’t need one. My compact kitchen doesn’t have the room and I love my handheld mixer. When it finally wheezed and whirred for the last time this past week I had to replace it.

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So I did. With the same one. In a different color if that counts 🙂 If you’re looking for a good hand mixer that you can really put through the paces for several years (mine lasted 5) then this Kitchenaid 5 speed is it. No, they don’t give me anything for saying this. I wish.

Thing Three: Flipp

I have recently discovered price matching and it is so easy that I thought I would do a quick share here. Going through flyers with scissors isn’t exactly my thing, but tapping a screen even I can do and that my Canadian friends is where Flipp comes in. It won’t give you Extreme Couponing style savings, but if I can have more money to shop with  pay less for my groceries then why not I say!

Daddy, I know you’re proud hehe

Don’t forget to show a little love for my awesome hosts at The Write Balance, Pink Chai Living and Love Laugh Mirch.

 

 

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Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Chocolate for breakfast is the most terrible kind of wonderful there is. I had made the original version of these muffins from Dorie Greenspan’s incredible “Baking: From My Home to Yours” many years ago, but I think I prefer this ‘healthier’ version from one of the most beautiful blogs out there. It subs out the butter for oil, adds in a hefty amount of yogurt and uses whole wheat flour as well. To make the batter looser and the chocolate flavor deeper I also added a little coffee to the mix. The resulting muffin is one that has a soft chocolaty crumb that is still substantial enough to keep you feeling full.

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Chocolate Chunk Muffins
Makes 12

80 ml canola oil
4 oz chocolate coarsely chopped divided – I used a mix of dark and milk
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup yogurt
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup coffee
Coarse Sugar for Sprinkling (Optional)

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12 cup muffin tray with cups. Melt half the chocolate and let it cool. Then whisk the dry ingredients together.

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In a separate bowl whisk all the ‘wet’ ingredients to combine and pour into the dry mix. Mix in with a spatula until almost combined – some streaks are okay and then add in the chips/chunks and fold those in. DO NOT OVER MIX. Divvy up the mix between the muffin cups and sprinkle with coarse sugar (if using).

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Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the top springs back when gently pressed.

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Party Invite and Awards!

Check it out – I just found a way to make Mondays more cheery!

Ayesha at Cooking with Ayesha very kindly nominated me for the Liebster and Quintet of Radiance awards and my blogger  buddy Ninja Naan and I are teaming up to put together an Eid Party. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Eid you can read more here. Eid ul Fitr is my favourite of the two Eids and I am so excited to be putting together this blog party with Henna. The idea is simple – post a recipe that you would make on Eid – it could be something traditional or something new. Henna and I will post the round up a few days before Eid and voila! Won’t it be fun to have a bunch of Eid /entertaining friendly recipes on hand before Eid?

(Yes, as some of you may have guessed I am hoping to host an Eid related event and totally could use some menu ideas heheh)

If you are interested then leave a message in the comments section or reach out to me at flourandspiceblog@gmail.com. Some of you will also be getting emails from us over the course of the next few weeks.

Now on to the Awards! Actually pause for a second; before I go into the awards you should go check out Ayesha’s blog. She cracks me up. And makes delicious looking food. I kinda want to be her friend, but that sounds a little creepy doesn’t it?

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Okay back to less creepy things, the Liebster which I was nominated for once before celebrates newer bloggers and the Quintet of Radiance award is the following 5 awards rolled in to one. Pretty cool huh?

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Both awards usually require some longer questions and answers, but Ayesha has graciously given us a bit of a pass on those and instead asked that her nominees share a few facts. Since I am aim to please, I will provide the 5+ she suggested. Actually, since my younger sister Maria is here I have asked her to help out. Here she goes:-

  1. Sarah always laughs at her own jokes halfway through them.
  2. She can eat more raita  than anyone on this planet
  3. Her nicknames for her children are usually food items (yummy ones)
  4. She has three children (me, Maria, included)
  5. Sarah has tons of purses and she is good at sharing them. Lol.

Thank you Maria for your help 😛

I’d like to pass both these awards on to the following 5 with the same ‘rules’ as Ayesha i.e. share a few facts about yourself, link back to this post, pass it on to whomever you please, and participation is optional.

1. I’ll Cook You Wash

2. Driving Ms. Desi

3. Sadafs Culinary Adventures

4. The Vanilla Bean Dream

5. Ocean View Kitchen

Happy Monday all you beautiful people!

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Three Things Thursday – IV

ImageI know, I know. It’s Friday and the post is called Three Things THURSDAY. But guys, between the two kids, a playdate, and some fabulous roast chicken (to be posted), Thursday just rushed by. So here we go, 3 random things I have thought about/done over the week and get to share with you thanks  to our lovely blog hosts The Write Balance, Pink Chai Living, and Love Laugh Mirch.

Thing One: Matchy Matchy Much?

I must confess to having rolled my eyes at the kids who are obviously a few years apart and dressed exactly alike. Apparently Karma is a thing because twice in the last week I have been bamboozled by my 3 year old into finding/ordering an identical outfit for my 6 month old. Sigh. So now if any of you are in Toronto and happen to see two lil ones in the swim outfit below please don’t roll your eyes. It could totally happen to you.

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Thing Two: The Book of Awesome

Okay so I am a little late to the party on this one (too), but a friend of mine got an autographed copy of this book for me shortly after Baby No.2 was born. Things got crazy and I only actually got it from her a few weeks ago and started reading it this week. “A high five for humanity” is how they describe it and I think that’s quite apt. It is basically a collection of the little things that make us all happier, but that we don’t ever take notice of. Like the pillow fluff. You know when you’re uncomfortable at night then flip your pillow over, fluff it a little and life is good again. Yeah… 🙂 Every day has so many little feel good moments like this, I love this book for reminding me to take notice of them!

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Btw did you notice how I casually threw ‘autographed copy’ in their like the fact that is is autographed didn’t almost make me die from excitement 🙂

Thing Three: Mothers Day

With mothers day around the corner Shana at Ain’t No Mom Jeans (my favorite mom fashion blogger) has put together an awesome gift idea roundup. Love some of the stuff there and so wish I was cool enough to rock leather leggings, but alas that’s another matter for another time.  Love the umbrella and raincoat though – even more so given that we seem to have had nothing but rain this past week!

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Picture Source: Ain’t No Mom Jeans

What do you guys think about Mothers Day? Am starting to feel like what should be about expressing genuine appreciation has turned into something far less meaningful. That said who doesn’t like pretty stuff 🙂

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Three Things Thursday – II

Welcome to this episode of Three Things Thursday, brought to you by our lovely blogger-hosts, Raj at Pink Chai Living, Salma at The Write Balance and Nisha at Love Laugh Mirch. For those of you who missed last weeks post Three Things Thursday is a way for us to share three things that have been on our mind, but don’t really need a post of their own.

Thing One: My Black Thumb

You know how you go to a greenhouse and they tell you that such and such plant can survive anything? Well, whatever it is it can’t survive me. That is for sure.

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My little girl (3rd from the left) and her friends planted some flowers and herbs today and here is to hoping that her efforts are more productive than mine. If so then who knows I may give plants another shot – I can already see my husband shaking his head in dismay.

Thing Two: Reading in Bed

I was/am a huge bookworm. When I went from good ol’ paper books to e-readers and apps I realized two things. One that I can no longer remember names of authors or titles of books and two that my daughter will never see me read. As far back as I can remember my parents read something almost every day – my dad his National Geographics and P.G. Wodehouses and my mom her Danielle Steeles and Mills&Boons. I want my daughter to grow up feeling that reading is something we do and ought to do on our own (vs just being read to) so to that end before I put her to bed in the evening I have started taking a book into bed with her and I read my book while she reads hers. Although I started this for a reason I find that I am really enjoying the quiet time we share together.

Thing Three: Baking up some Uglies

Folks I am so Disappointed in myself. Yes, capital D disappointed. I attempted these beautiful supposedly easy butterfly cupcakes and this is what I wound up with.

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Call it quits or redo? I also used an eggless cake recipe that I am not super happy with. Failure all around. Sigh.

Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to check out the cool posts put up by other Three Things Thursday bloggers!

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Hello Baby!

If frequency of posts is anything to go by then I am a terrible blogger. But just LOOK AT THIS FACE!

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That folks is the face of Mishaal Mir, the newest member of the Mir family. She came into the world on November 18th and is overall a wonderful little baby. Her big sister is thrilled to bits as well. The only down side is that I have now been usurped as Zara’s best friend and replaced by Mishaal. Then again, who can blame her 🙂

 

 

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Liebster Award!

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First of all a HUGE thank you to Agata  of Bark Time for generously nominating me for the Liebster Award. I have not been blogging for the last little while so I did see this a little late, but did not want to deny myself the fun of playing along! The Liebster is aimed at start up blogs with less than 200 followers, and it is this simple – you get nominated, you nominate 11 others and then you answer 11 questions that your nominator (is that a word?) came up with and formulate 11 for those you nominate to answer. Sounds fun right?

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