Baked Pasta with Chicken

Useful confession: I absolutely love baked pasta.

We had a couple of friends over for dinner last night and it had been quite some time that I hadn’t eaten anything savory, so I decided to go the whole night yards and bake one my favorite pasta dishes (with lots of melting cheese on top!). And here is the result:

Drooling already?! There’s more! It’s super easy! Grab a pen and paper and start preparing your grocery list!

BAKED PASTA WITH CHICKEN (for 4)

Ingredients:
– 300g of boneless chicken breast, cut into small cubes
– 1 onion, sliced lengthwise
– 2 garlic cloves, crushed
– 1 Tbsp of olive oil
– 1/2 cup hot water
– 1 can of chopped tomatoes
– 3 Tbsp of cooking cream
– Salt and pepper
– 300g of mixed grated cheese, I used half mozzarella and half Gruyère
– 350g of dried pasta, preferably shell-shaped

Method:
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a wok-style pan, fry the onions and garlic in the olive oil. After a few minutes, when the onion becomes translucent, add the chicken, sprinkle a little salt and pepper and cook.
When the chicken is cooked, add in the hot water and bring boil. The water should darken a little bit because of the fried onion.
Add in the tomatoes from the can and the cooking cream. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper if you hadn’t used enough salt at the beginning.
Bring to boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until sauce thickens but doesn’t lose its liquid state.
Add in the cooked pasta. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. It should be al dente.
Stir well.
Pour everything into a Pyrex dish and sprinkle the grated cheese on top, evenly to cover the whole surface. You can use less cheese. I used a lot because I wanted it to be cheesy on purpose.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. At this point, there isn’t much to cook, just the cheese has to melt nicely. You can broil afterwards for a few minutes for a golden surface.

Note: You can replace chicken with canned tuna. Cook everything the same way. For vegetarians, don’t use any meat. The result should be as appetizing!

Note: Have you noticed my new photography skills? ;-)

Stuffed vine leaves saved her life …

and her book saved my life!

Useful confession: I love cookbooks.

I recently bought Nadia Sawalha’s recent cookbook under the title of Vine Leaves Saved My Life. Nadia Sawalha is an actress turned presenter. Her cookbook is a collection of Middle Eastern recipes from a family kitchen, either passed down through the generations or created by Sawalha for her family. The recipes are practical and do not require a lot of time or rare-to-find ingredients. The cookbook is very user-friendly and Sawalha has included photographs of her family, which makes the book somehow more personal.

I know how to cook Middle Eastern as I’ve learned many recipes from my mother, but never really wrote down any recipe. Sawalha’s recipes have really saved my life the other evening when I had to prepare a get-together dinner for a group of our friends with the theme ‘homemade Lebanese food’. I tried several of her recipes and they all turned out perfettissimo!

The Sixties

What kind of memories does the term “the sixties” conjure? Long hair, flowers, love, all-cotton clothes, good music, nature, … tie-dye? YES! Tie-dye! I didn’t know how much I missed tie-dye t-shirts until I accidentally saw fabric dyes at a local bookstore/stationery shop. I bought two Marabu EasyColor dyes, one green and one red. I decided to experiment with the green dye on an old plain white cotton t-shirt.


If you’re in the mood to work with colors and old clothes, the process is very easy, here is what you need:

- 1 sachet of fabric dye (I used Marabu EasyColor for fabric and batik)
– 4 L of boiling water
– 4 Tbsp of salt
– Rubber bands

Method:

First, tie your t-shirt. For circular designs like the one I did, this is what you have to do:

Lay the t-shirt on a flat surface, front facing you. Grab the t-shirt in a pinch-like finger grab and lift it up. Now start binding every 5 cms with a rubber band. In the end, the t-shirt should look like this:

Pour the water in a large container or pot. Dissolve the dye powder and the salt. Wet the tied t-shirt in lukewarm water and slightly squeeze the water out. Place the t-shirt in the colored boiling water for 30 minutes. Make sure to move the t-shirt around every 5 minutes. After 30 minutes, rinse the tied t-shirt under cold running water until the water runs clear, not green anymore.

Dry the t-shirt before you untie it. After the t-shirt is dry or semi-dry (I was very impatient, I couldn’t wait!), untie it, wash it again with cold water until water is clear and hang it to dry.

Eh voila, your DIY tie-dye t-shirt! Thank you Confettina!

Rose by Paul Smith

A useful confession: I love beautiful scents.

I was looking for a perfume suitable for the summer and something that wasn’t too heavy or too light. A few months ago, I tried Paul Smith’s perfume ROSE while I was at the duty free in an airport. I loved it but didn’t buy it because I already had two perfumes that I was using at the time. But I didn’t forget the lovely smell of roses. I’m a Taurus, so when I want something, sooner or later I get it! So, last night while I was shopping for a birthday gift for my friend, I couldn’t resist going into the cosmetics and perfume shop and trying floral/rose-scented perfumes. I tried Lancome’s and Lanvin’s (just to make sure of my Paul Smith choice), but I still preferred Paul Smith’s. It has a watery sense to it, something that the other two lacked. So, without any hesitation, I grabbed the box and within a few seconds I was the happy owner of Rose by Paul Smith!

Summer Lovin’!

A useful confession: I love flowers.

We recently attended the wedding of our good good friends, which took place in the garden of a monestary in Beit Mery, and man was it the most beautiful and charming wedding I’ve ever been to! The bride’s dress was very simple and royally chic, and her bouquet of flowers spoke of nothing but simplicity, love and femininity. Even the necklace she elegantly wore around her neck was unique. Oh, and the flowers in her hair! How cute! She was simply dressed as a very relaxed and genuinely happy bride, and that is, in my opinion, the best way you can dress as a bride.

The church ceremony took place on a terrace overlooking the mountains and valleys of Lebanon. The walkway to the altar was a bed of flowers and the altar itself was a table with simple white covers and a lovely arrangement of flowers.






Now that I have the bride and the ceremony enough attention, let me talk to you about the table decorations. Each table was centrally lined with different bouquets of wildly colorful flowers arranged in very rustic pots, and in the center of each table there was a colored bird cage! So cute! I spent half the time taking pictures of the tables than the bride and groom! OK, I’m exaggerating, but seriously, it was the most beautifully decorated wedding I’ve ever attended.









This little mountain makes my little heart flutter!!

Look at this DELICIOUS mountain of my favorite desserrt!

What your eyes are eating now is Lavender Cream Croquembouche by Ali Kantor via Sunday Suppers.

 

A little about Ali Kantor: 

Ali Kantor, founder of the “cakery” discovered her sweet tooth at the ripe age of one, when she tasted her first swedish fish (red of course). She was transformed and fixated by sugar and hasn’t looked back since. After graduating with a finance & entrepreneurship degree from the university of florida (go gators), Ali resided in Fort Lauderdale, where she attended Johnson & Wales University. There she cultivated her passion for cakes and confections and graduated with a degree in baking and pastry.

 Next, Ali traveled to New York City, where she worked with elite industry professionals such as “america’s cake maestro,” decorator Ron Ben Israel, as well as dessert-buffet maven, Amy Atlas of Amy Atlas Events.