What’s for Dinner: Chipotle Chicken and Potato Wedges

Tonight for dinner, I made a chipotle [whole] chicken alongside potato wedges.

Yesterday afternoon, I took a whole chicken and first poked holes in it with a fork [so the marinade seeped through to the inside]. Next, I seasoned the chicken with the following:20140423-185255.jpg

  • salt
  • black pepper
  • paprika
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • chipotle chili powder [lots of it]
  • onion powder
  • ground mustard
  • rosemary
  • oregano
  • lemon juice
  • yogurt

I let the chicken marinate a day.

Today, when I was ready to put dinner together: I let it cook on low heat for several [3] hours on the stove in a deep pan. Just like I did with the chicken back on this postI love how juicy and tender the meat is on the inside [and prefer this method over roasting it in the oven and having the chicken dry up easily].

Alongside, I roasted some gold potato wedges [seasoning it based off what I put in the chicken] with:

I cut the potatoes into wedges before transferring all of the cut potatoes onto a foil-lined baking sheet. I drizzled EVOO over the potatoes before I seasoned the potatoes with: salt, garlic powder, chipotle chili powder, oregano, and rosemary.

I baked it in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes all together [flipping them over half way through the baking time].

P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.


Local [Halal] Thai Food

I don’t like Chinese food, so I just always [wrongly] assumed I wouldn’t like Thai food either. Similar taste profile and all. Chinese food is way too salty, for the most part, for my liking… and I don’t particularly like that distinct taste.

I hesitantly tried Thai food last November when a bunch of us cousins went to a local [halal] place, called N’ Thai Palace, and I was pleasantly surprised that a) it didn’t taste like Chinese food and b) I actually liked it! It was flavorful, visually pleasing and delicious. I had been meaning to go back but didn’t get the chance to… except for the one time I got all the way there only to find out that the restaurant was closed on Mondays!

All of us got different meals to try and we each loved everything. Which is rare– usually some are good while others… not so good. I especially liked their drunken noodles and Mango Chicken and Shrimp.

Last week, I tried another local [halal] Thai place with a friend– this time to Pan Asia [also closed on Mondays]. It was just as delicious; so much so that I got the family to try it for dinner last night. I love their Pad Thai with chicken and the rest of my family also liked their Hakka Noodles [with chicken] and Chicken Fried Rice.

Hajj Friends

Saturday night, several of the local NJ families from our hajj group finally got together. I say finally because we have been trying to make it happen since we got back from hajj six months ago but life kept getting in the way. Alhumdulillah for a huge and close-knit family, but sometimes that makes it nearly impossible to meet with other social circles. Not to mention, my life has been nothing but chaos this first quarter of the year.

Over the course of the past six months, I can’t tell you how many people have told me how nice it is how we have stayed in contact with people in our hajj group– that they don’t even remember most of who were in theirs, etc.

I have stayed in contact with several people over the phone, texting and of course Facebook… but to see them after so long? Joyous. Alhumdulillah, we picked up right where we left off. Reflecting, reminiscing… and recounting the many funny stories of course.

The friendship/bond I have with a select few of them is indescribable. It’s like we have known each other our whole lives, except for the fact that they were mere strangers six months ago who have become like family since then. No formality, no fuss: just plainly and simply a fun time with down to earth people.

I don’t know if our paths would have ever crossed, even though so many of us are from New Jersey, had we not been in the same hajj group. What I do know is this: they were [and are] a huge part of the “hajj experience” for me. I am thankful for their friendship and I am thankful we shared the experience(s) of hajj together. I hope no matter what the distance between us may be, that our friendship surpasses that.

We met and became friends in one of the greatest ways possible. Not to mention in the greatest place possible. The stories, memories and experiences we share are like no other.

And for that, they will always hold a special place in my heart. May our friendship grow even stronger over the years.

InshAllah, I can’t wait  to have the group gather again soon [and hopefully it won't take another six months this time around]… you know, before I leave for the other end of the world… :)

Verily with Hardship comes Ease

2014, in essence, thus far has proved to be the worst of times and the best of times.

It started off as [relatively] horrible as it possibly could, with the c-word scare and surgery soon thereafter [and the not so fun recovery]. It started off with the many “what if’s”, “how could this be” and “why” questions. Not to mention the most stressful months of my life.

I often had to remind myself that this, too, shall pass.

And in the midst of all this chaos… in the way both spectrums intertwined at the same time… there is truly no other way to explain it in my mind other than: He, above, once again proved: Verily with Hardship comes Ease - [94:5-6]

Most of my family and friends, by now, know that  I am engaged as of early March.

In the days after, someone jokingly said to me that I apparently don’t do anything the normal/typical way. But that is my life. So why would this be any different? For the first time since leaving Pakistan 19.5 years ago, I will travel back to Pakistan mid December. And not just to visit, mind you; to get married there. Why not, right?!

Never in a million years would I have imagined traveling back to Pakistan, let alone to go back for the first time after so many years to get married AND move to Australia immediately afterwards.


But alhumdulillah. He is the best of planners.


Last year at the this time, it was all about planning/preparing for hajj. This year? Wedding/Pakistan Trip.

What’s for Dinner: [Individual] Donut Cakes

For my brother Faraz’s birthday on Friday, I made individual cakes in the shape/form/appearance of a donut… because he loves donuts. I made his favorite kind: chocolate frosted with sprinkles. I left the sprinkles off of mine.

You will need, of course, a [non-stick] donut pan.

Use your favorite store-bought vanilla, yellow, or chocolate cake recipe [store-bought or homemade].
I used a yellow cake with chocolate frosting.

Tip: I have a “cupcake pen” that helps you fill cupcake or muffin and it makes it so easy [without a big mess]. I basically just used it to swirl around each donut hold three times until each was filled two thirds of the way. They will rise!

I baked mine in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes each. As you can imagine, I had to do a number of batches since each donut pan makes six. I think my batter made 24 individual “donuts”.

Once the individual “donut” cakes were out of the oven, I let them cool before frosting. Once they were frosted, I added the sprinkles for the finishing touches.

The possibilities are endless with this technique: use your favorite combination! Such as:

  • chocolate cake with chocolate frosting
  • vanilla cake with vanilla frosting
  • red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting

P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.

What’s for Dinner: Chicken Taco Twist

For Faraz’s birthday dinner, tonight, I made this chicken taco twist. I saw this idea for a twisted bread sometime ago, I think on Pinterest, and changed it up to my liking.

Cut them as small or large of a serving as you would like.

What you need:

  • ground chicken
  • taco seasoning
  • bell peppers, diced
  • 2 tubes of [refrigerated] french bread
  • Egg, lightly beaten
  • Oregano
I doubled the recipe and made two twists today.

What I did was:

  1. Season your ground chicken with black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, and chili powder. Cook it over medium heat before adding in the [low sodium] taco seasoning. Mix well.
  2. Add in the diced bell peppers [I used red and yellow ones today] and mix it with the chicken for a few minutes before removing it from the heat.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking tray with foil [for easy cleanup].
  4. Meanwhile, with the french bread dough: score the top from one end to the other [in both loaves]. Next, using your fingers, spread open the dough a few inches to create an indent in the middle for the filling.
  5. Add in the chicken mixture. Now, using your fingers again: pinch the dough together to closing around the mixture completely. Repeat the process with the second bread.
  6. Transfer both loaves onto the lined tray [seam side down], one next to the other. Next, twist the two bread dough with one another as if you were creating a braid.
  7. Brush on the beaten egg on top of the twisted bread. Create score marks/slits on top of the bread dough [for ventilation].
  8. Sprinkle some oregano on top.
  9. Bake in your preheated oven, for about 30 minutes. Or until the top is golden brown and the bread is completely cooked through.
  10. Since I was making two sets, I repeated the process of steps 4-9 a second time.
  11. Slice and serve!

P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.

What’s for Dinner: Barbecue Chicken

BBQs are a favorite around here from spring through fall [and often even in the midst of winter]. In fact, we have already done a barbecue a handful of times in the mere few weeks the weather has been nice. Not to mention I love how healthy it is the way I make mine.
Typically I take scored chicken [leg and thigh pieces] and marinate it with black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, lemon juice, yogurt, raw papaya, some tandoori masala and some tikka masala. Working with scored chicken does wonders for the marinade to seep inside. Some days, I use my homemade tandoori masala mix instead, which you can find by clicking here.
Let the chicken marinate before cooking it over the charcoal on the barbecue grill outside.
This recipe is so versatile and I have used this recipe in many ways: cooked slowly over low heat on the stove, in my George Foreman grill, in the oven, with boned-in meat and boneless: it’s a fail proof go-to recipe. Not to mention I have used the chicken in many things: on top of pizza, in wraps, burgers, and pita pockets to name just a few from the top of my head. The possibilities are endless. 
Serving this chicken barbecued alongside the raita I mentioned on this post is absolutely delicious and a perfect pair.

P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes. Grab and share my button:

What’s for Dinner: Baked Boneless Chicken Wings

I turned my boneless chicken wings recipe into a healthier version today [Friday night] by baking them. Full of flavor, without the oil/frying factor.

Here’s how I made it today:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking tray with foil. Spray non-stick cooking spray over the foil.
  2. I seasoned boneless chicken cubes with black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and onion powder. Mix in an egg.
  3. Meanwhile, [in a ziploc bag] season your flour with black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, and chili powder.
  4. In batches, coat all of your chicken with the flour mixture. Just add the chicken into the ziploc bag and shake well until it’s nicely incorporated.
  5. Transfer your coated chicken onto the lined foil tray. Before transferring it into your preheated oven, spray non-stick cooking spray over the top of the chicken.
  6. Bake the chicken, in your preheated oven, for about 10-12 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, mix your [heated up] hot sauce and about a tablespoon of [melted] butter.
  8. Let your chicken cool for a few minutes once it is out of the oven before coating it with the sauce.

P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.

What’s for Dinner: Sweet Chili Shrimp

For dinner tonight, I recreated the Sweet Chili Shrimp appetizer from Red Lobster. I made a homemade version of Sweet Chili Shrimp [and served it over a bed of lettuce]… and it tasted spot on. By the way, click here for my version of their Cheddar Bay Biscuits which would be great to serve alongside this shrimp!

What I did was basically make my popcorn shrimp recipe to start off. Minus the salt, since I was adding sauce. And I added chili powder and onion powder to the shrimp.

  1. So: I took [small] shrimp [peeled and deveined] and seasoned it with black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, onion powder and chili powder.
  2. Next, add in an egg [amount depending on how much shrimp you are working with... just enough to "wet" the shrimp so the breading sticks].
  3. When you are ready to fry the shrimp: in a ziploc bag [for convenience and easy cleanup], add in flour [amount depending on how much shrimp you are working with] and season the flour with black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper and chili powder. Shake well to make sure the flour is thoroughly seasoned.
  4. Add in the shrimp, in batches, to the flour. Shake well.
  5. Finally, fry the shrimp until they are golden brown!

Meanwhile, for the Sweet Chili sauce, I just used a store-bought sauce today. I wanted to make sure the taste would be accurate, and it was, so next time I’ll experiment with making the sauce completely homemade too. That’s not to say, the store-bought wasn’t a great help/alternative: I’m all about semi-homemade/getting some help from the store when I can, but I do like controlling the quantity/quality of ingredients in my food which is why I prefer homemade when I can. 

Today, I used the Sweet Chili sauce from the brand “Frank’s Red Hot”.

  1. After allowing the fried shrimp to cool somewhat for a few minutes, toss the shrimp with the sauce. Coat all the shrimp with the sauce.
  2. Once your shrimp is coated, transfer it on top of the [chopped] bed of lettuce.
  3. Optional: for presentation purposes, adding a sprinkle of chopped scallions on top would be a great touch.

P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.

What’s for Dinner: Cajun Roasted Potatoes

To serve alongside my Cajun shrimp, I made these Cajun roasted [red] potatoes.
I cut my red potatoes into small pieces [first I halved them, then quartered each half]. I transferred all of the potatoes onto a foil-lined baking sheet, Next, I sprayed the potatoes with non-stick cooking spray before I seasoned the potatoes with black pepper, garlic powder, salt, onion powder, paprika, and of course Cajun seasoning.
I baked it in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes all together. For the first half of the baking time, I had all the potatoes facing skin side up. For the second half? Skin side down.

P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.