Nutella Cinnamon Rolls

Nutella Cinnamon Rolls_2

Last weekend – ironically on Valentine’s Day – the founder of the Ferrero company, Mr. Michele Ferrero died at age 89. Known as “the Father of Nutella” and “real life Willy Wonka,” Ferrero’s company introduced Nutella, Kinder Eggs and Ferrero Rocher, making the world a sweeter, happier place.

I have to say, I was into Nutella before it became a thing here in the U.S. over the last few years. Nutella on toast for breakfast wasn’t unheard of during my childhood and was pretty much our substitute for peanut butter; that’s not to say we didn’t stock peanut butter jars in our pantry. But let’s just say, I was sneaking spoonfuls of Nutella in the middle of the night long before the food bloggers picked it up as the latest and greatest.

In honor of this legendary man and the chocolate legacy he’s left behind, I whipped up a batch of easy Nutella Cinnamon Rolls. They’re easy because I didn’t make my own dough. Let’s be real, I used Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough and pulled together my own filling.

  Nutella Cinnamon Rolls

Nutella Cinnamon Rolls
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  1. 1 can Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  2. 4 tablespoons Nutella
  3. 1 tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
  4. Dental Floss, for cutting the rounds
  5. Cooking Spray
  6. Muffin Pan
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F
  2. On a flat surface, unroll the dough into one large sheet
  3. Spread the nutella over the dough in an even layer, careful not to tear it. I found using a knife, as opposed to a spoon works best.
  4. Sprinkle the nutella with cinnamon
  5. Roll the dough horizontally, staring on the longest end
  6. Once you’ve rolled the dough, use the dental floss to cut the dough into 1 inch pieces. To do so, slide the floss under the roll, pull up each side of the floss, cross and pull in opposite directions. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  7. Spray your muffin pan with cooking spray and place each roll in the pan, swirl-side up
  8. Bake for 13-15 minutes
  9. Serve warm
Measuring Cups, Optional

Turkey Bacon Hearts

Turkey Bacon Hearts

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. And while everyone focuses on their significant others (boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives), Valentine’s Day is extra special in our family because it’s Tayta’s Birthday.

I’m happy to announce that Tayta, yes … halfway through her 90s, still loves celebrating her birthday. The flowers, the roses, the chocolates, the presents, the cakes, they’re all for her, and she expects it and that’s what makes Valentine’s Day so special. She’s pretty much the glue that holds all her kids and grandkids and grand-grand kids together.

So this year, we celebrated at her home. The local cousins made their rounds throughout the day, showering her with gifts. As for the other—I lost count how many –cousins, they called in from all over the world – literally from California to Australia [think, globe going east].


Adapted From here


Turkey Bacon Hearts_2


Turkey Bacon Hearts
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  1. Turkey Bacon
  2. Aluminum Foil
  3. Rimmed Baking Tray
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. Line the rimmed baking tray with aluminum foil
  3. Cut each slice of bacon horizontally, to make two long, thinner slices
  4. Then cut each vertically
  5. Assemble the bacon into heart shapes
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until cooked through, but not burned
  7. Scoop up with a spatula
  8. Serve warm
Measuring Cups, Optional

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs_2

I love those mornings when I wake up to a text from my brother containing a photo and the words “make this.” Which is exactly what happened a couple days ago. We live in the same house, about two doors apart and yet I haven’t seen him in days – probably because we’re each on a different schedule. But not seeing me regularly doesn’t mean he’s forgotten that I can cook up some good dishes. Enter the random text Monday night at 11:07pm. Where do you suppose he found this photo? From the Food Porn Twitter account, where else? And of course, he expects me to drop everything and have it ready to eat at a moment’s notice.

I let him drool for a couple days before I got to experimenting and then promptly surprising him on a random Wednesday afternoon. 


Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs_3


Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs
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  1. 1 Egg, beaten
  2. 1/3 cup Italian Style Breadcrumbs
  3. 1 lb Ground Beef
  4. 1 tablespoon Onion Powder
  5. 1 tablespoon Garlic Salt
  6. 1/3 cup Parsley, chopped
  7. 2-3 Mozzarella Sticks, cut into ¼ inch pieces
  8. Cooking Spray
  1. Preheat 350
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, onion powder, garlic salt, parsley and egg
  3. Using your hands, form rounds with the meat mixture
  4. Make a small hole in each meatball and insert one piece of mozzarella
  5. Work into a ball and repeat with the rest of the meat mixture
  6. Place on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil and greased with cooking spray
  7. Spray the meatballs with cooking spray, then
  8. Bake for 10 minutes, turn once and then cook for another 7 minutes
  9. Serve with pasta
Measuring Cups, Optional

Hareeseh [Semolina Cake]


You know that moment of excitement and apprehension when you’ve tried to bake something and you go to share it with your grandmother, certain she’s going to be so proud of your work? Well, that happened about three years ago when I first tried to make Hareeseh. I was so excited to bring her a sample of my baking that I could even envision her smiling and telling me what a great job I did.

Do you also know that moment when, instead of fulfilling your vision, she looks at it, turns to you and says “It’s a little thick. You could have made it a little thinner,” at which point you’re devastated and don’t really comprehend the rest of what she says? Yea, that happened too. But it’s okay, because it only motivated me to try again … albeit a few years later.

I’m sure she’d be proud. She’s gotten a chance to try some of my other arabic-food experiments. I love her to pieces, but she always has constructive criticism when it comes to my cooking. I am competing with the best, after all, and I don’t even come in a close second. I didn’t leave her any this time, as I baked this batch of Hareeseh for a co-worker’s birthday (yes, at my day job). It’s a good thing I made a large pyrex full, since everyone in the office had a piece – and some went back for seconds, thirds and even fourths. No worries, I won’t tell anyone who you are!

I made this one fluffy. You can make Hareeseh less fluffy by removing the baking soda from the recipe.


Hareeseh [Semolina Cake]
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  1. 3 cups fine Semolina
  2. 3/4 cup Unsalted Butter, melted
  3. 3/4 cup Sugar
  4. 1 cup plain Greek Yogurt
  5. 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  6. 1/2 cup blanched Almonds, Halved
  1. 4 cups sugar
  2. 3 cups Water
  3. Juice of 1/2 lemon
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. In a large bowl, mix the semolina, sugar and melted butter
  3. Use your hands to mix well
  4. In a separate bowl, mix baking soda with the Greek Yogurt and allow to sit for 5 minutes, until it doubles in size
  5. Add the yogurt to the semolina mix and use your hands to mix well
  6. Pour the batter in a pyrex baking dish and press down until flat -- should not be more than 1 inch thick
  7. Using a dull knife, cut squares or diamonds in the batter
  8. Place an almond half in each square/diamond
  9. Bake for 30 minutes until browned
  10. Remove from oven and pour the syrup over the entire pan while the cake is still hot (it absorbs better this way)
  12. In a small saucepan, mix together all the ingredients and stir well
  13. Bring to a boil and simmer until the syrup thickens (and can coat the tip of a metal spoon), about 30 minutes
Measuring Cups, Optional

Shrimp Fried Rice


Shrimp Fried Rice_2

I’m not a huge fan of Asian foods [and by Asian, I mean far-east Asian]. I’m extremely picky. Not because I’m not adventurous with food, but everyone has different tastes and mine just happens to not be extremely fond of the sauces. I usually have one or two go-to items when I’m stuck in a situation where I have to have Chinese, or Thai, or Japanese food – usually because I’m the minority. And usually, my go-to items are sauce-free or are pretty bland in flavor. Everyone’s entitled to their prerogative and this is mine.

In any case, just because it isn’t my favorite cuisine, doesn’t mean I can’t experiment with it a little bit. I was pleasantly surprised that the finished product tasted like fried rice, but also was something I enjoyed eating. I’m telling you, this is the Asian dish for picky eaters.

Adapted from here

Shrimp Fried Rice


Shrimp Fried Rice
Serves 8
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  1. 3 cups White Rice, already cooked (that’s 3 cups uncooked rice)
  2. 1 cup Frozen Carrots
  3. 1 cup Frozen Peas
  4. 1 cup Frozen Corn
  5. 3 tablespoons Sesame Oil
  6. 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
  7. 1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  8. 1 Onion, chopped
  9. 2 eggs
  10. Cooking Spray
  11. Vegetable oil
  12. 2 cups shrimp, tail-off
  13. Salt, to taste
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat
  2. Spray the skillet with cooking spray and cook the eggs until cooked through, remove and chop
  3. Add vegetable oil and saute the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent
  4. In a small bowl, mix together sesame oil, ginger and soy sauce and set aside
  5. Add the frozen vegetables and cook for 3-4 minutes, until soft
  6. Then add the shrimp and cook until they start to curl, another 3-4 minutes
  7. Mix in the rice and chopped egg
  8. Add the sesame oil mix and stir constantly until the rice is coated – add more if needed
  9. Serve warm
Measuring Cups, Optional

Bamiya [Okra Stew]


I always feel an immense sense of accomplishment when I make Arabic food and it tastes like my mom’s cooking. Likely because Arabic food only tastes good when my mom or tayta make it, in my personal opinion. So when I realized we had some fresh okra hanging out in the fridge, I decided to try a very well known Arabic dish; Bamiya. Bamiya is basically okra stew.

Don’t let the okra deter you. Most people don’t like it because it can get pretty slimy. But if you prepare the okra properly, I promise you a slime-free meal.

As usual, I like to get my taste tester’s thoughts on my food [read as: get my dad and picky brother’s comments on my fabulous cooking]. So I asked dad what he thought – more specifically, who’s bamiya he liked better, mine or mom’s, to which he answered, you’ve put me in a tight spot so I’m going to have to say your mom’s … and yours. Good save dad!



Bamiya [Okra Stew]
Serves 6
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  1. 2 lbs Fresh Okra, washed and caps removed
  2. 2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  3. 2 cans Diced Tomatoes
  4. 2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
  5. 1 lb Lamb Stew Meat, cubed
  6. 2 tablespoons Seven Spice
  7. Salt, to taste
  8. 3 tablespoons Fresh Cilantro, chopped
  9. 4 Garlic Cloves, minced
  10. 1 medium Onion, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F
  2. Mix the okra with 1 tablespoon veggie oil [to coat] and place on a large baking sheet
  3. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the okra is lightly browned
  4. Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat the other tablespoon of veggie oil over medium-high heat
  5. Sauté the garlic and cilantro for 3 minutes
  6. Add the onions and sauté until translucent
  7. Add the lamb meat
  8. Stir in 1 tablespoon seven spice and salt and continue to cook until browned
  9. Add the two cans of diced tomatoes and the okra
  10. Mix together two tablespoons tomato paste with water, to about 3 cups
  11. Pour over the okra
  12. Add second tablespoon seven spice and salt to taste and stir
  13. Bring to a boil them simmer for about an hour
  14. Serve with rice or bread
Measuring Cups, Optional

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