Inspired by Life

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Malaysian Spicy Fried Rice

I am happy to be reunited with my favorite brand of Basmati rice - Royal Basmati. What a huge difference it makes to have the right type of rice to prepare a specific dish. I have been craving some Thai food and did not want to really spend the money to go out and buy some. But then, I was missing a couple of ingredients for a recipe I wanted to try. So, I settled and made this delicious Malaysian Spicy Fried Rice instead. I did not add any meat to this dish, so it is purely vegetarian and it does have scrambled egg in it. This spicy fried rice is versatile and you can add spicy shrimp, chicken, or even fish to it. Your choice.

Here's how you make it.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Dramatic Reading of The Declaration of Independence

Lest you think I frittered away the whole month of July just cooking up a storm, I am finally catching up on some blog posts of other fun things that we did this month that were not food-related.  Our family—Aaron and I—tradition for the 4th of July has been to always do something new. Let me tell you—that is not hard to do in Washington, DC! In fact, one can get quite overwhelmed with how many new things one would like to try and fit in in one day.

One of the things on our bucket list has been to attend the dramatic reading of The Declaration of Independence on the steps of the National Archives in Washington, DC. We have never managed to get out of the house early enough to make it in time. This time, however, we were on the road by 9am and totally surprised at the lack of traffic and how empty the streets were in DC and around the Capitol Building! We found a spot to park, and walked over to the National Archives. We got there in the middle of their reenactment, but it was worth it still the same. If you scroll all the way to the end (after you have seen all the pictures, of course!), there is a video of last year's dramatic reading.

Channa Masala

One of the easiest dishes to make, this channa masala is tasty, healthy, and filling! I realize that as much as I love to cook, I love when I can whip up dishes in 30 minutes or so, and enjoy the rest of the time with Aaron.  The lime juice in this dish enhances the flavor and brings out the deliciousness of it right to the forefront.

White Chicken Chili

I love Mexican food and we have it quite often in our home, so I was thrilled when I came across this recipe in 'Our Best Bites' cookbook that a friend of mine loaned me. It is so simple to make and I love anything that is a one-pot meal. Less clean up!

Try it out and see for yourself how tasty and addicting this can be. I know now that I should make a huge pot of it next time as we devoured this soup so fast and were left wanting more.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tilapia, Brown Rice & Black Beans

When I don't feel like cooking, this meal is our staple at the Taylor Family Household. Considering that it can be made in 15 minutes flat—from stove to table—it makes this meal a definite favorite. One way we shave off so much time while cooking brown rice is to use instant brown rice. Our favorite brand is Aldi's Fit & Active Instant Brown Rice. It cooks in five minutes, and is highly nutritious.

Here's how we pull this meal together.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Summer Pasta Salad

We are enjoying an unusually cool morning. All my windows are open and a gentle, cool breeze is wafting in as I sit at my desk, I hear the birds calling out to each other, and the squirrels chasing each other through the trees. After two weeks of stifling heat and humidity, we are loving this. As I write this, the sun breaks the clouds and there are little rays of sunshine filtering in through the blinds. What a lovely morning!

Last weekend, we had Aaron's family in town and invited our friends, the Kachers, to come over for dinner. We always enjoy our time with them and the little girls are so much fun :) Bonnie brought over a fresh garden salad and a yummy dessert (scroll down for the pic). I decided to try a Summer Pasta Salad. I was thrilled with how simple this was and yet how well it came together. I made a huge bowl of this salad and it was all gone!

Here's how you do it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Orange Sweet Rolls

For the last two weeks, we have had family visiting us. It has been fun as they have tried to see everything (well, the major things) there is to see in DC, and enjoyed every minute of it (I hope.) It is a well-known fact that Aaron's family could subsist on a permanent diet of sugar—in any form.

Since it is their last day with us, I decided to make them something fittingly sweet yet not so sweet that Aaron or I could not eat it.  And I found this recipe by Erin on her website Lemon Sugar—the perfect recipe for these beautiful, moist, sugary, citrus-y Orange Sweet Rolls. Now, if you are not a fan of citrus, you can always turn these into cinnamon rolls instead.  But you should give the oranges a shot.

It is a bit more time-consuming than my recipes of late, but, oh, it is well worth the time and effort. They turned out beautifully and my house smelled of warm citrus goodness!

Grilled Chicken Cranberry Walnut Goat Cheese Salad

This simple and nutritious salad was ready in less than 15 minutes!  This morning, I knew I did not have much time to get lunch prepared for Aaron before he left for work. That was mostly due to the fact that I was working on something yummy for the blog for later in the day. So, while he had breakfast, I threw this delicious number together and it was ready right when he finished breakfast.

With only a few ingredients, you can whip up this salad in no time.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Baked Oatmeal Casserole

I am not a fan of oatmeal, so I am always looking for ways to camouflage the oatmeal and yet eat something healthy for breakfast. So, imagine my joy when I stumbled across this dish from Urban Nester. And, it included yummy strawberries and bananas and nuts! One-pot dish for breakfast - sign me up!

I made this last night and stuck it in the fridge. Aaron ate it cold—since it hits 80 degrees at 8am here—and proclaimed that it was delicious.  It is an easy thing to make ahead of time and you can eat it or freeze it for a week.

Be a star at breakfast when you serve your family this scrumptious meal for breakfast.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Rosemary Artisan Bread

It has been a while since I have made this deliciously-crusty-on-the-outside-but-moist-and-chewy-on-the-inside bread. I couldn't quite fit all that in the title so I just called it Rosemary Artisan Bread. :) I cannot bake any other bread besides this one. Well, this recipe is so darn easy that I have not really tried to bake any other kind of bread. Seriously.  One tiny detail. No kneading necessary!

This recipe is so versatile (I like versatile recipes because I get bored eating the same thing all the time) that you can add any combination and it will always be a hit.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Fresh Strawberry Muffins w/ Cinnamon Sugar

Aaron and I rarely have family visit us since we live on the East Coast and our large family is spread all across the country and some outside the country, as well. So, it is a special time for us right now to have Aaron's mom and his sister visit us for two whole weeks! I am having a blast cooking for them, and they get to see the madness that goes on behind the scenes to cook, photograph, and post each recipe. :)

This morning, I made some strawberry muffins. Now, most of you are thinking, "What's the big deal? They're just muffins." Let me tell you, I always forget to not overmix the batter and usually end up making the muffins quite tough. This time, however, with a recipe so simple and so yummy, I didn't want to forget, and I DID NOT FORGET!!! They were beautiful, fluffy, tasty, delicious muffins. Okay, I will stop talking about it and just give you the recipe.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Baked Eggs w/ Bacon, Spinach & Herbs

If you are in search of a one-dish breakfast, this is it. If you would like to save on doing dishes after breakfast, this is the recipe you are looking for. Cook and serve in the same dish. And the versatility of this dish is endless, therefore making it a very popular breakfast in the Taylor household.

I discovered this recipe on Williams Sonoma or Bon Appetit website (can't quite remember which one) for Christmas breakfast last year and loved how easy it was to make.  Hope you like it, too!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Coconut Buttermilk Pound Cake

Coconut and buttermilk make such an excellent combination. I got this recipe from Martha Stewart's website and loved it from the first bite. Moist, and delicious flavor. The coconut is not overpowering at all.  It was all gone by the end of the evening!

Here is the recipe:

Friday, July 12, 2013

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread

We have family visiting this week, and I was racking my brain to find something I could make for breakfast that would be quick and easy.  Last week, I made Strawberry Shortcake Donut Muffins that turned out great, and I had some leftover cinnamon sugar that I stored in a Ziploc bag. I had a few Rhodes frozen rolls left over as well. Put them together and—voila! Frozen rolls, butter, cinnamon sugar. How easy can it get?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cream Cheese Chocolate Cake Bars

Let me start out by saying this: If you have a gym membership, you should definitely use it after you eat these. If you don't have one, get one.  I came across this recipe on another of my favorite blogs - Averie Cooks - and knew I had to try them.  Cream Cheese. I am sold. Averie Cooks has other delicious recipes and photos as well.  She also adds some great tips on how to keep this recipe vegan and gluten-free.

Whoever gets to try these will love you forever. IF they get to try them, that is.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Inside-Out Carrot Cake Muffins

Aaron loves carrot cake. That is an understatement. So, each year, on his birthday, I make him a carrot cake. Check out this Carrot Cake I made him last year.  As much as I love perfecting a recipe, I also like trying new things, so I made some Inside-Out Carrot Cake Muffins. D-E-L-I-S-H!! The cream cheese center is a lovely surprise, and the muffin was to die for.

I didn't always like carrot cake - I found them to be either too sweet, or too dense and sometimes both. Until I came across this recipe in the Williams Sonoma CAKES book. Yes, I know it is a cake recipe but technically, it is meant to be baked, so I made muffins instead. :) There is a key ingredient in this that makes the muffin or cake so moist and just sweet enough but not overpowering at all.

 The kinda heart-shaped center in the picture was done by the muffin on its own, and not by me.

Try out this recipe and enjoy some delicious muffins with friends and family.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Grilled Chicken w/ Spicy Dry Rub

A couple of weeks ago, one of our friends organized a pool party BBQ at our neighborhood pool. It was a 'bring your own meat and a side dish to share' type of BBQ. It was a lot of fun and the kids loved it! Aaron and I had fun trying out all the other dishes and we enjoyed the time with our friends.

To make things simple, I decided to try a dry rub for the chicken as it required very little to no marinating time.  I adjusted and experimented with the dry rub until I arrived at the combination I liked. It was amazing how well the meat had absorbed this rub and because I used chicken thighs, it cooked in a jiffy!

The meat was juicy, the spice rub mixture was flavorful and we were very pleased with the outcome! Try it out and tell me what you think.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Chili Lime Chicken Burger

If you are looking for something easy to make and throw on the grill, or grill pan, this is that 'something'. 

It is hard to go wrong with eight ingredients! 

Get your recipe here and impress your family/friends/guests/strangers or whoever you like. They will enjoy this dish.  This is such a versatile recipe that you can really make it your own. Go ahead, try it!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

If you haven't figured out by now, I love to explore. One of the places on my list was the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens located in Anacostia. It was in a bit of a rough neighborhood and we thought we were lost for a moment. But, we made it there, and I am so glad we decided to visit in the morning. The flowers were in full bloom - in all their glory! I had never seen a garden that was fully dedicated to aquatic plants and flowers. It was wonderful to marvel at the absolutely huge flowers and leaves, and be constantly amazed at the artist that God is!

Here is a glimpse (read: photo overload) of the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.

Friday, July 5, 2013

4th of July Fireworks - Washington, DC

A wordless post. Well, almost wordless. Enjoy the fireworks!

Strawberry Shortcake Donut Muffins

I have been dying to try out this recipe for about two weeks now. Finally, unable to stand it much longer and wanting to make Aaron something yummy for the 4th of July, I gave in and made some of these UH-MAZ-ING muffins! A surprising twist to an ingredient I have used many times took this recipe to the next level. 

Want to know more? Read on and I will tell you!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Spicy Red Lentil, Tomato & Kale Soup

"It's actually delicious!"

"Tasty, good, and tasty", said Aaron, between slurps of this yummy soup. He had some serious reservations at first because I told him I was going to make some kale soup for dinner. He expected to come home to a pot of green slime :) I didn't correction his assumption.  But, once he took his first spoonful of this simple and delicious soup, he stopped after two large bowls, declaring that he was pleasantly surprised.

For this healthy, protein-packed, flavorful soup, read more.