Cheesy Cheese Fries *revamped*

by Naila Sheikh


It's a cold day outside and I'm not planning on leaving my residence. My backyard offers enough sunshine for the day and I make sure for the kids and I to have plenty of fresh air even on very wintery days. 

Outdoor activity is my number one emphasis when it comes to spending the weekends. Staying home doesn't mean staying indoors at all times - one should make an effort to soak up the sun and embrace the skies.

 

I was able to sleep in today, yay! The moment I woke up I imagined having cheese fries for either lunch or dinner. The visual of fries drowned in cheeses 🧀 and all other yumminess, made me look forward to just stay at home and not be bothered...AT ALL.

 

"Cheese Fries" 

 INGREDIENTS: 

 

• 3 to 4 potatoes sliced in a handheld fries maker  / or use frozen fries from the store.

• poppy seed dressing 

• deli sliced pepper rings - sliced thinly

• 3 sundried tomatoes cut (you'll get oily fingers👋🏽, but it's ok)  

• a handful of Spanish manzanilla green olives, sliced thin

• green onions - 3 to 4 stems cut in thin rounds

• Heinz sweet relish - 3 tbsp

• red pepper flakes - 2 tbsp

• Shredded cheeses: I used Muenster and Mexican Cheddar Jack. 

• a pan that can go in the oven ( spam spray  or butter it a little bit )

 

 INSTRUCTIONS: 

 

  1. I used a cake pan, buttered the bottom and sides.  
  2. I poured a generous amount of Poppy Seed Dressing to cover the bottom. It doesn't have to cover all, since it's quite runny: see below👇🏽...
Next time, I'll probably cut down on the poppy seed dressing. It was delicious but that much isn't needed.  

Next time, I'll probably cut down on the poppy seed dressing. It was delicious but that much isn't needed.  

    3. I add the rest of the cut-up ingredients, one after each other, starting with green onions, deli peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. 

    IMG_3764.JPG

    4. I top it off with the cheeses covering the fries. If you want, you can add relish to this but some may find that too much (it also tends to get liquidy with relish, so be aware.)  You can finish by adding the rest of the fries laying it in the other direction: either horizontal or vertical. 

     

    IMG_3765.JPG

    5. Put it in the oven for about 30 min. in 350 degrees temperature.  

    I turned off the oven but let it sit for a while as I was tending to the kids, my cheeses turned browner than I desired but the crunchy layer of cheese and the bits of sundried tomatoe, olives, really make for an appetizing and non-stop edible lunch!  😋

    ...just as I imagined and dare I say, much better? 

    Cheesy fries READY to be DEVOURED!  

    Cheesy fries READY to be DEVOURED!  

    FullSizeRender.jpg

     

    With ❤️, 

    Naila ~ 


    Eggplant Bharta {Dip}

    by Naila Sheikh


    I like this variation of an eggplant dish which is a huge hit in my household i.e. the hubby only...😂 He requests this meal when at times he feels close to his Pakistani roots. I am however, more keen on using eggplant in Italian dishes. When I do happen to make his fav "Baingan Bharta" - maybe because of the time crunch and it's easy to prepare (don't we all have motives in life? 😆) but of course also, upon his sweet request, I make sure to make it exactly as he likes it: super spicy. I then add yogurt to my plate for the much needed coolness in blowing off steam. No, not that I'm angry...I mean, steam from the spices, you silly. 

     

    Today has been an exhausting day - heck, my entire 3 weeks have been back-to-back crazzzyyyy, but tonight we must celebrate, relax and open a bottle of bubbly Apple Cider 🍾 , binge watch Netflix, drool over Mahira Khan and Shahrukh Khan's Zaalima song in upcoming Raees movie! Doesn't she look fantastic! I have a total girl/woman crush on her - her innocence and simplicity truly oozes on screen (women are simply sexy in their 30's, woohoo! and yes, that's a biased opinion but true too) Loved her in Humsafar (on Netflix now!) so imagine my excitement for this movie. Anywho, Anyways: back to the Kitchen talkin' ... 

     

     

    Azam is watching Jaws 2 while I'm quickly typing this up on my phone screen for y'all to read or curse me, later...I'll leave that to you.  By the way, the actors in Jaw look like sharks themselves. What's with the gritty faces? 

    ... 

     

    "Baingan Bharta" 

    Ingredients

     

    • olive oil

    • 1 onion

    • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes & 1 harri mirch 🌶 (jalapeño sliced in half)  / depending on your preferred level of spicyness.

    • 1 eggplant 🍆 , peeled and thinly sliced

     • 3 to 4 potatoes, peeled and also thinly sliced

    • 2 tomatoes  

    • 1 tbsp of LaaL Mirch Powder  

    • 1 tsp of Turmeric powder (Haldi) 

     • black cumin, 2 tsp (kalonji)

    • tomato paste or tomato sauce

    • I like Shan's Achar Pickle Masala - 2 tsp

    • ginger & garlic paste 1 tbsp

     

    💬Such a fake fin! Jaws' music is compelling though. The kids are now watching with eyes wide open👀 -- "it's a shark!"

     

     

    INSTRUCTIONS: 

     

    Cut your onion thin, add a drizzle of olive oil. Let it fry until onions appear golden brown.

    Add a pinch of Achar/Pickle Masala, add laal mirch, haldi and red pepper flakes - dem spicessss! 

    Add your garlic/ginger paste, let it mix and fry together.  

    Once all masalas are making you cough and you turn teary eyed wanting to cry like a baby...justttt wait, have patience...grab your tomato 🍅 if you can see through all the burning...add yo tomato and pasta/sauce to this concoction. You will now simply thank me for your instant relief. You're welcome. 

     

    Lets not forget about the protagonist of this story: the eggplant. Now, please add your eggplant and potato slices and close the lid. Let it simmer on medium heat for about 20 min. until everything is soft and mushy.  

    Add black cumin called kalonji (it's powerful ancient stuff, gives you strength) .

     

    Upon opening the lid, you will see eggplant transformed into slimey strips resembling... I-don't-know-something-slimey? 

    IGNORE. Just give it a good mix and grab your utensil that mushes it all together, the one that looks like a grater but is handheld...? I may have to attach a pic here, I'm lost for words... englishhhh vinglishhhh 😂

    It's called a POTATO MASHER!!!! Duhhhhh. 

    It's called a POTATO MASHER!!!! Duhhhhh. 

    Now, here comes the fun part: take out all your frustration and put all of your weight (not the figurative weight, I mean your real weight)  onto the masher and slam that thing, ever so gently, to the bottom of your pan. Keep on mashing it.

    Mash. Mush. Smash? 

    Done? 

    Rejoice! Add some cilantro for garnishing - grab a plate (and some yogurt to put out the 🔥) ...either eat with Naan or you can also westernize this DISH by calling it an 'eggplant potato dip' in front of your sophisticated friends (make sure it's dip-worthy and no remains of eggplant strips are visible).  

     

    You think I'm talking crazy? Well well well...see for yourself then... 

     

    Enjoy!  

    Enjoy!  

     

     

     

    With ❤️️,

    Naila ~ 


    Day 10

    by Naila Sheikh


    I've always been a firm believer that in life - whether healing from childbirth, or getting your body used to a new exercise regimen or just acclimating to any challenge or happening in our lives - one is to give at least 10 days before results are shown. 

     

     

    This 10 days formula has helped me in the past and I still believe it to be true. Now, I don't conclude within this time frame for the body to heal or adapt right after, but I believe that mentally & physically we tend to become ready or form shape to a new concept. 

     

     

    I've been particularly excited about my new workout routine. I decided to not skip the gym starting from Dec 1st, to lessen sugar in my life and wear my workout clothes in the morning when dropping my kids off to school. This mind shift in thinking and my little decision pertaining my morning outfit, has made a tremendous change in my routine. 

     

     

    Today marks DAY 10 and I can say with surety that I feel much healthier (I've always been active)  and more leaner. The first few days of attending those gym classes - although I've always loved Zumba - may have been the hardest, especially when trying out new methods such as Kickboxing or a class called Pound in which sticks are used to drum your way through exercise. One feels like dying at the moment and wanting to just lay down but the good part is that the stretching towards the end, is something one can look forward to. 

     

     

    So, while I was on my busy schedule to visit the gym daily, I had done some meal prep at home to avoid stress on what to eat. The best decision I've made is to cook minced chicken or minced beef (keema) and have it ready for serving to either put in salads, pastas, naan rolls (as lunch to-go for the hubby) ...

    1 whole packet of minced chicken cooked in masalas, pasta sauce w/ peas. 

    1 whole packet of minced chicken cooked in masalas, pasta sauce w/ peas. 

    I like to cook it with peas since peas are easy to chew for my kids who are extremely picky when it comes to hard chewed foods/veggies🙄 - also, the beauty of minced meat is that is becomes multi-functional rather than cooking the whole chicken. However, when REAL Pakistani dishes are served, I am of course the first to opt for chicken with bone since it's definitely more flavorful. 

     

    It's December 1st! 😎 Day 1 of my fitness journey begins; to a healthier, toner, more leaner, meaner 😡😜 ME. #resistingtheholidaybinge #gymeveryday

    It's December 1st! 😎

    Day 1 of my fitness journey begins; to a healthier, toner, more leaner, meaner 😡😜 ME.

    #resistingtheholidaybinge #gymeveryday

     

     

    My mysterious 'trench coat look' 😎 every morning leaving the house. Wearing my workout clothes when dropping off Imaad and running errands, has made a huge difference in getting motivated to go to the gym. Luckily my destinations are aligned so I'm not going out of my way...🤔 The STRIKE kickboxing class was amazing; so much energy & fun! But also very very tough! (Do I wanna sit on the couch and read a book? Or sweat it all out and get it over with? Hmmm... Feeling stronger! Happy Thursday Everyone!

    My mysterious 'trench coat look' 😎 every morning leaving the house. Wearing my workout clothes when dropping off Imaad and running errands, has made a huge difference in getting motivated to go to the gym. Luckily my destinations are aligned so I'm not going out of my way...🤔

    The STRIKE kickboxing class was amazing; so much energy & fun! But also very very tough! (Do I wanna sit on the couch and read a book? Or sweat it all out and get it over with? Hmmm...

    Feeling stronger! Happy Thursday Everyone!

    post-workout on-the-go 🚗lunch... #naturevalley

    post-workout on-the-go 🚗lunch...

    #naturevalley

    Vinyasa Yoga! #heatedroom #coldoutside

    Vinyasa Yoga!

    #heatedroom #coldoutside

     

    Love, 

    Naila ~