Saturday, August 12, 2017

Abbie's Dhaba Style Keema (Minced chicken)

Chicken minced meat from breast, 5-6 cups finely ground
Onion, 1 large, chopped
Diced tomatoes (canned pulp or fresh), 1 cup
Chopped tomato, 1 large
Bay leaf (taiz patta), 1 large
Cloves, a couple of pods
Black pepper corns, a couple of pods
Cinnamon stick, 1 inch
Ginger and garlic paste, 1 tablespoon
Coriander (cilantro) powder, 1 tablespoon
Cumin powder, 1/s tablespoon
All spice (garam masala) powder, 1 teaspoon
Shan Kata Kat masala, 1 1/2 tablespoon
Vegetable (canola) oil, 1 cup or more according to preference
Butter, 1 inch stick (or acc to preference)
Green chilies, chopped and seeds removed, acc to preference

1. Add 1 cup vegetable (canola oil) to a cooking pan (deep skillet is ideal).
2. Add 1 large chopped onion, 1 large bay leaf, a couple of pods of clove, a couple of black pepper corns, an inch long stick of cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon ginger and garlic paste and begin to saute at high heat.
3. As onions begin to brown slightly, remove the bay leaf and discard.
4. Add 1 tablespoon coriander (cilantro) powder, 1/2 tablespoon cumin powder, 1 teaspoon allspice (garam masala) powder, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 1/2 tablespoons Shan Kata Kat masala and saute for another minute.
5. Add 5-6 cups, finely ground chicken mince (from chicken breast) and begin to fry, using a spatula to ground it even further as it forms lumps during cooking.
6. As the minced chicken (keema) begins to change color (from pink to white), add a cup of diced tomatoes (I used canned pulp) and continue to cook, adding another teaspoon of salt.
7. Cook until tomato pulp has disappeared, and the minced meat has browned. Check for salt, add according to taste.
8. Add chunks of butter (to your liking, I used an inch of the butter stick).
9. Throw in generous green chilies (seeds removed), chopped tomato, and chopped cilantro leaves.
10. Cover with a lid and let it sit on very low heat for the green chilies and butter aromas to incorporate in the meat!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Wizarding World Book Club: Chamber of Secrets Theme 'Celebrity'

There's no better way to begin a Friday morning than to be Tweeting to the Wizarding World Book Club. Before the discussion takes off, I always find fans prepping for it. Love it! I found a Mandrake today (handmade cutesy version!). Discussions are every Friday at 4pm BST (11am EST, my time!).
This summed up my Friday morning. I am headed to make some lunch now, and have a magical day in my own state of mind. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Fried Moong Dal

  • Moong dal (lentils), soaked 6 hours, 2 cups
  • Fenugreek leaves (dry), 2 tablespoons
  • Red chili pods, 2
  • Cilantro (coriander) powder, 1 tablespoon
  • Cumin powder, 1/2 tablespoon
  • Fried onions, 3/4 cup
  • Ginger and garlic paste, 1 tablespoon
  • Turmeric powder, 2 teaspoons
  • Vegetable (canola) oil, 1/2 cup
1. Add 1 tablespoon ginger and garlic paste, 2 red chili pods, 1 tablespoon coriander (cilantro) powder, 1/2 tablespoon cumin powder, 2 teaspoons turmeric powder, and 1/2 cup vegetable (canola) oil and mix well to a paste in a larke cooking pan.
2. Set on moderate heat and cook until you hear a sizzle.
3. Wash and strain moong lentils and add to the mixture. Mix well and add 2 red chili pods, 3/4 cup fried onions (crushed), and 2 tablespoons dry fenugreek leaves and fry well.
4. Add enough water to the skillet so as to submerge the lentils and have a centimeter of water level above the contents. 
5. Bring the lentils to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer and let the mixture cook (closed lid) until all liquid dries. Add 2 teaspoons salt (subject to taste) somewhere in the middle. Note: While lentils are cooking, open the lid occasionally and give the contents a stir to avoid sticking to the base.
6. Garnish with fried onions. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Cajun and Mayo Vegetable Stir Fry

Note: Quantities of ingredients have not been mentioned because you can take as much and as less as you like.  
INGREDIENTSCauliflower florets
Chopped mixed vegetable blend, frozen, (peas, carrots, beans)
Canned water chestnuts
Green bell peppers
Cajun seasoning
Light Mayonnaise
Red chili flakes
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Vegetable oil
COOK!1. Toss together cauliflowers, mixed vegetables (chopped), water chestnuts, and bell peppers in a large skillet on high heat and very little vegetable oil.
2. Once the fluid dries up, add some salt and pepper, generous Cajun seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, and red chili flakes and continue to stir fry. 
3. After cooking for about two minutes add generous light mayonnaise and cook well. 
4. Stop cooking when mayo dries up. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Sauteed Mushrooms

Note: This recipe has no quantities mentioned because it can be made according to taste.
INGREDIENTSCanned mushrooms (pieces and stems)
Garlic powder
Vegetable (canola) oil
Cheese of your choice
1. Squeeze the canned mushrooms of all excess fluid and dry them out on a dish towel for a couple of hours. You may set them in front of a fan to speed up drying.
2. In a frying pan, add very little vegetable oil (just to barely coat all mushrooms) and add mushrooms.
3. Sprinkle garlic powder on the mushrooms, sparingly.
4. Mix well with a spatula and set on high heat.
5. Sprinkle salt and pepper according to taste.
6. Saute the mushrooms well until whatever little fluid remained, dries up.
7. Lay them out on a serving plate and garnish with your choice of cheese (as much as you like!).
8. Microwave the plate to melt the cheese and serve hot!

Pottermore: Sorted Gryffindor, Discovered Patronus, Got Wand!

Last year I had joined Pottermore only to be highly disappointed and sorted into Hufflepuff! *DEATH STARE!* Who does that? So, I'd deleted the account because I am NOT Hufflepuff. I have emptied my pockets buying Gryffindor merch from all nooks and crevices of the planet and cyberspace. I shall not be sorted Hufflepuff! 
Then, this year I dived head straight into research as to what was the secret formula of being sorted into Gryffindor on Pottermore. Blimey! The planet is RAGING about how Pottermore sorted them into houses they don't like. Poor Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) did not get Slytherin! How cold blooded evil is that?! I was; however, not going down without a worthy Gryffindor fight!
Some answers on the multiple choice quiz are obvious Gryffindor answers. But there are trick questions there that are responsible for changing your results. O, and I tried noting down answers from YouTube videos that show how people got Gryffindor. They're not reliable. The same question with the same answer choices was answered differently in different videos and both people got Gryffindor. For example, Which pet would you take to Hogwarts? - I would always answer Snowy Owl. And someone answered Dragon Toad and got Gryffindor. Then there was a question that simply asks 'Left or Right?' and people became Gryffindors by choosing both options. What was I to do? 
So, in the end what mattered were prayers! I answered my Gryffindor instinct obvious answers, some learned answers from YouTube ON BIG RISK and some totally new questions popped up like 'Moon or Stars?' and I went with my instincts and Gryffindor logic. Like I chose Moon because of Professor Lupin and Moony and the friendship with Harry.  Then I said a prayer again and ...

Friday, August 4, 2017

Wizarding World Book Club: Chamber of Secrets Theme 'Home'

I joined the Wizarding World Book Club by Pottermore this week *BLINK BLINK* (What was I waiting for?). Since I am re-reading the Harry Potter books again (as part of reclaiming my life!), this comes as the perfect little treat that connects me to the fan world of Potterheads doing the same. Every week the WW Book Club is initiating Twitter discussions based on a theme from the chapters of the books being read that week. This week was Chapters 1 through 5 from The Chamber Of Secrets and I was ready to Tweet!

I was excited today about my first WWBook Club Twitter discussion. I had calculated the equivalent of EST according to the 4pm BST they had announced for the session to begin. Questions were posted and I indulged!
So that's that! Next week theme is celebrity and I am guessing it would have a lot to do with Professor Gilderoy Lockhart!

Abbie's Adventure Films: July 2017


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Abbie's Adventurezine July: ♫Ridin' Down The Highway! Goin' To A Show!♫

Ridin' Down The Highway Drove My Fear Away

Photograph by the awesomesauce little sister Sara (Sara Writes)
"Did somebody say highway?" 
The Abbie hides her face, ducks, and runs away from the scene - far far away. They call the highway the 'River of Steel' in an article online. How am I supposed to NOT fear something that has a name like that? 
My relationship status with highways.
Driving the interstate highway has been a fear of mine since 7 years now. I started driving in 2012 and drove the highway only once to test the waters. That happened in 2012 and ever since I have been using in-roads to travel. Each time someone said something about an event that was in a far off city, I would duck and hide. My GPS and Google Maps always stayed on 'Avoid Highways' mode and I would rather drive 45 minutes than to take a shorter route on the highway. 
Why was I so terrified of the highway?
Well, nobody offered to help me fight my fear. Everyone else (mostly my passengers) were terrified of dying too! And, there were always the horror stories ... 
I was freaked out not so much about the high speed but the quick decision making I was supposed to execute while driving at 55 miles per hour at the very least. It always seemed to be like being pressured to answer a multiple choice question while riding a rollercoaster. And someone said, "You take a wrong exit and you end up in a wrong city!" and it sounded like ending up in a different dimension from sci-fi movies. 
Seven Years Later...
It is typical with me. When fear increases beyond tolerance, I turn a deaf ear to it, give it a blind eye, and refuse to let it take over me. And then I grab the bull by its horns! And so, I did. I requested my ultra busy younger brother for training sessions because the whole 'she can't drive the highway' thing was getting on my nerves. It was one of those daring steps where I pushed myself out of the comfort zone ... comfort zone??? ... out of my mind ... to kill that little fear bug in my head. I admit that my heart was pounding very loud, my palms were sweaty on my Nightmare Before Christmas steering wheel cover, and I was very fidgety. 
I had had a hearty breakfast in prep for this
insane day. With a pounding heart, words of
safety and protection and ease of affairs
in constant recitation, sweaty palms, and
the Waze App and my highly important
VVIP brother dictating the way ... I picked
up speed and drove out onto the biggest
interstate highway of Maryland that goes
all the way to Virginia and beyond.  
Tips For Scaredy Cat Highway Rookies
  • Ignore your fear (tough!)
  • Pick a less rush day, and a less rush hour (I chose 9:30am) 
  • Have a hearty breakfast! You'd need it.
  • Don't drink too much fluids, (no tea coffee!) - stress already causes adrenaline rush and you'd need to use the loo!
  • Know from my experience that it is no big deal! It's an overrated fear hype!
  • Use a magnetic holder to prop up your smartphone in convenient sight. I had mine set on my AC vent (courtesy my brother). 
  • Install Waze App because it shows you the shortest, best traffic route for your destination and keeps talking to you throughout your journey. It even tells you if there is a police vehicle nearby or a vehicle parked in shoulder ahead. 
  • Breathe! 
  • Pick up steady speed on the entry ramp, and enter the highway when a vehicle seems slightly far and you can make a move. Do this by using your side mirror. 
  • Stay in the right most lane for starters and change one lane to the left because the right most lane drivers will have to yield to vehicles entering and leaving the highway.
  • Always drive the speed limit! Do not bother about vehicles passing by or overtaking, maintain speed and control.
  • Listen to Waze and keep a check on the Exit numbers written on the highway sign boards. 
  • Don't fear if you take a wrong exit. You will not end up in a different dimension. It will still be the same state of the United States of America. Waze will continue guiding you.  
  • Believe in yourself.
  • Don't train with people who bring your morale down. The trainer should be patient. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Fruit and Nuts Broccoli

Broccoli florets, 450-500 grams
Yellow peach (hard), 1 large
Cherry tomatoes, 1 cup halved
Cranberries, 3/4 cup
Chopped almonds, 1 cup
Sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon
Red chili flakes, 1 tablespoon
Basil leaves
A pinch of sugar and a lemon  
Sriracha sauce 
1. Give 450-500 grams broccoli florets a boil with very little water and a big basil leaf, then strain and set aside. Note: If you want a crunchier broccoli, ignore this step.
2. In a grill pan, add 1 tablespoon red chili flakes, 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, 1 cup chopped almonds, 3/4 cup cranberries, and 1 chopped yellow peach and begin to dry roast them. 
3. When seeds just begin to crackle, add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, and a pinch of sugar and a pinch of salt and continue to saute.
4. After a minute, add broccoli, some chopped basil leaves and saute until broccoli is soft and liquid dries.
5. Drizzle sriracha sauce according to taste, and serve in a plate. Drizzle lemon juice and garnish with halved cherry tomatoes.

Monday, July 31, 2017


*INSERT HAPPY SCREAM HERE* ♫ Hedwig's Theme♫ Plays ... Happy Birthday Harry! Happy Birthday Jo Rowling, the marvelous lady who created the wonderful world for us Potterheads! That photo up there couldn't be a more suitable throwback other than today. I had recreated mini versions of Hagrid's dirty cakes for Sara's 21st birthday (4 year ago!). That same blessed year we went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for the first time! The excitement was unreal!
This morning I woke up to #HappyBirthdayHarryPotter and decided there is no wonderful way to sum up #HarryPotterJuly (blogathon month started by Sara) other than showing the world my Potterhead pride.

Abbie's Potterhead Pride

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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Words Of The Month July 2017

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Clearing The Brain Fog With London Fog

My brain has an annoying habit of fogging up during days when chaos levels are so high you don't have time to attend to bathroom needs. I find moments of peace when in between most hated trips; to the hardware store, the everyday grocery mart, doctors' offices, I get to sip some Chai at a Starbucks Coffee (ironic!) and I consciously mute all instructions being shot at me. The Life of Abbie plays like a big Greek tragedy and the basic dramatic psychosis keeps going on and on. So, as soon as the effects of the Italian bergamot and lavender in the London Fog Tea Latte disappear, I turn the keys in the ignition and get going again. Another irony (too much iron in this piece of writing) is the portrait of the landscape in the background (the picture up there! ^). That woman is a bit too relaxed --- mockingly relaxed --- like hair hanging free off a bench type relaxed. 
Life's routine has not normalized for me since Ramadan ended. I know, I know. It's been a month already. But I still haven't decluttered my HQ solid enough to be announced for Summer. There are zones that look like an Armageddon aftermath. These include my wardrobe, the guest room storage closet, and the guest room dresser area itself.  
How did things get out of hand? O, it always comes to this. Since September of last year (2016) I have been slacking. One after another some grand event was coming up and I kept piling undone things. Now that Hajj, Hajj party, Umrah, travels, Ramadan, Eid, and everything else is over I can put the decorations back into the storage boxes and stow them away. I am working on rotating things in my wardrobe so if Tom Riddle's basilisk is living somewhere in there I can evict him. What else is a landlady for?
The brain fog has made me forgetful, and I have resorted to posting notes as reminders for myself everywhere. I know I will (or someone else will) re-clutter my clothes piles so I have posted categories of the piles on top of them on the wall as a reminder. I intend to shock myself with my own personal management skills.
While I am fighting a seemingly endless battle with all this INSIDE the house, the OUTSIDE is screaming for attention. The heat wave of summers has toasted the yard crispy and I am guilty because I had the irrigation system sealed shut in Fall. Why? Because there was too much water wastage - it was watering the streets! And meet another horror!

Every year I was paying $400 just to had this backflow pressure valve inspected! Yes, the water company has concerns that harmful contaminants from the irrigation system (the innocent irrigation system!) would flow back into the water supply and contaminate drinking water. So I had to pay the price! Crazy how the previous homeowners were dead broke but they still had a $400 annual inspection going just to keep sprinklers running. Plus, every winter I paid about $180 to have the system 'winterized' where they blow water out of everything and seal the system shut until I pay $180 again in Spring to re-open! CRAZY! And despite all this ... every winter this crazy machine would freeze and then explode! Yes! Kaboom! Water spray all over! Got it pulled out! Sprinkler system is now officially closed!
A very boring and sweaty trip to the hardware store (Home Depot) resulted in a genius sprinkler that rotates! To speed things up a bit, we picked it up and watered the expanse of territory we have by hand!  
So, anyway, those are the mundane bits that sort of aggravated my brain fog this month. It took a trip to Hot Topic and some retail therapy with Harry Potter merch to clear it up. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Abbie's Awesome Box of July

Abbie's Cafe #FoodJournals July: Of BBQs & Remarkable Pani Puri Skills

Came July, the season of barbecues, and we had a backyard barbecue! I am alien to the workings of a barbecue grill so I save the planet from fires and refrain from trying anything with coal and gasoline. My brother and his wife set it up and I brought the fancy stuff like buttery baked corns on the cobs. Sara added her self-created recipe of Cajun Chicken & Veggies (a big hit!) and butter seasoned rice.
It was a fantastic evening with the perfectly done barbecued chicken and the charred veggie skewers made from our homegrown vegetable garden (courtesy brother and his wife!). Everything from the veggie garden is coming out great except for the radishes that turned sour due to heat and wrong timing (had to be thrown!).
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Serious goodness happened when I stumbled upon the idea of making Karhai style Keema with Shan Kata Kat Masala. The Dhaba Style Keema turned out so delicious I can serve it at a dinner! 
The inspiration came from the Chicken Kata Kat Curry that I had made earlier. Why not put Keema in and try? Kali Dal was another staple that I cooked again. My 2.5 year old baby niece loves it with plain rice. Next month, I'd post the recipe! 
Next, I put Shan Punjabi Channa Masala on chickpeas and potatoes and made a Pulao (pilaf) with rice. The Punjabi Channa Pulao (meatless) has got be the best side rice dish, in addition to Tehri (Yellow Turmeric Rice). 
Aloo Methi Palak (Potatoes, Fenugreek, Spinach) (recipe HERE) is literally named after the ingredients used in the dish and has been a favorite among adults of the family since always. I remember developing a liking for spinach because of this dish and it doesn't have too many ingredients, or too many steps. The prep though is slightly time consuming. You must chop spinach leaves and chop potatoes and boil them for a minute (to reduce cooking time because spinach cooks super fast). My mother always requests this dish and typically eats this with a dollop of yogurt and a slice of bread/paratha. Check out what happened when I texted her a photo of what was on the lunch menu!

Pani Puri Adventure 
I had an adventurous encounter with Pani Puri at a fancy wedding I attended at the Gaylord National Harbor Convention Center Resort. The idea is to put the Puri in your mouth all in one go. The challenge is not to spill a single drop of the spicy syrup that goes into it, and not to drop a single chickpea from the filling while you are at it. 🎥 Click Play to watch video below or click HERE
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Towards the end of July I started getting my lost cooking spunk back. Yes, I lost it along the way because I was beat! I contributed to the Bulk Cooking day with Chicken Biryani (made using Shan's Karachi Beef Biryani spice mix). Ahh, the smell of fresh chopped cilantro and the chicken steaming through the rice.
Next up, I improvised on a pasta recipe and came up with a delicious, spicy Eggplant Macaroni with Parmesan and Tomato Sauce. Grab recipe HERE.

Let's Talk Pizza Now! 
I have my pizza face on when I get a pizza craving. That mode struck in the 3rd week and I went bonkers. I wanted to go back to Stone Hot Pizza in VA because they have whole grain crust! Watch the sights and sounds of my Pizzariffic weekend. 📷Video below. My ultimate fav at Stone Hot is the BBQ Chicken Pizza (BEST!). Others we have tried are Quatro Carne Pizza (Halal turkey bacon, beef meatballs, Turkey pepperoni), and Romana Pizza (beef meatballs).  
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Lunch With A Friend
This had been on my Summer Bucket List 2017 and that happened! Sara and I had Qz over - she's our super awesome friend who talks sense. She brought Singaporean Rice (I NEED to sort out my priorities and try that recipe) - they were delicious! We had some Halal fried chicken over. And Sara re-created her Cajun Chicken. I really wanted to enjoy the Pioneer Woman dinnerware and the melamine platter and salad spoons I had gotten from Walmart. They looked so Summer-y!
 A special mention ... Cookie Overload Funfetti Blondies by Sara's Baked Creations. Sara made these in Ramadan and the family went mad after them. 

Free Burger Anyone? Red Robin! Yumm!
I am a Red Robin Royalty Club member. 👑 *Making a Queen face right now* They shot me an email saying any gourmet is free since I had earned a 10th item free reward! So, I took the ladies out for a bite. We discovered some seriously amazing seasoned fries. 🎥 Video Below! 

"We Are Making Puris Today"
The way I say 'Puris' in the 🎥 Video below has become a joke between Sara and I. It is one of those random LOL moments. Grab the Whole Wheat Puri recipe HERE
Summer Picnic Time!
It was a barbecue by the Lake Fairfax in Virginia and there was seriously good food! I adored the lakeview. Wow, July has taken me to some beautiful bodies of water. It was the fancy wedding by the Potomac River at the Baltimore Harbor first, and now this. I am so thankful I live on the East Coast. Catch some beautiful sunny glimpses of the gleaming lake and a typical wooden bridge besides it in the 🎥 Video below (under the photograph).

This has been a month of great eats! And with August begin the great workouts and dieting so we are all thinner (comparatively!) by the time we say goodbye to 2017! I leave you with a last photo of a wedding cake piece I devoured without thinking about how it would add to the tyre of fat around my belly! 
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