Date Truffles

Date Truffles

We’re about one-third of the way through Ramadan, and while it hasn’t taken too much of a toll on me, I have been indulging in my daily afternoon naps. I have to say, this is pretty much the only time of year I’m able to take a nap mid-day – and two-hour naps at that! You’d think that would mess up my sleep schedule, and in a way it has, but not too extremely.

One of my favorite things about Ramadan is the social gatherings. From iftars, to sohoors, there’s always an occasion to gather with friends and family. You’d think that by the end of the month, we’d be so happy to eat during the day, but in truth, with all the dinners and early morning meals, we’re happy not to over eat anymore.

The dinners are usually where I run into people I haven’t seen since the last Ramadan. At the same annual iftar, it’s where my childhood friends and my adult life come together. Where I realize just how much each of us has changed from year to year, from new jobs to new spouses to the addition of adorable babies and children. It’s essentially a yearly reunion where we eat delicious foods until we can barely move and stay as long as possible to catch up with the people who will always be a permanent fixture in our lives, even if it is only once a year at the annual iftar.

There’s always so much food, but I wanted to share one of my favorite Ramadan sweets, Date Truffles. So I whipped up a batch and took them with me.

 

Until next year …

Date Truffles_2

 

Date Truffles Recipe

Ingredients

3 cups pitted Dates
1 package Tea Biscuits
1 cup Shredded Coconut
3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil

Directions

After pitting the dates, mash them as much as possible
In a medium-sized pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat
Add the mashed dates and continue mashing until smooth (it might turn into a large sticky mass of dates
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, crush the tea biscuits
Once the dates turn into a large sticky mass, mix together with the crushed biscuits (using your hands works best)
Begin rolling the date mixture into a ball in the palm of your hands, then dip the ball in a small bowl with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and roll in the shredded coconut
Place on a baking tray
Repeat with the remaining date mixture
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

 

 

Servings: About 25

Muhallabiyeh [Arabic Pudding]

Muhallabiyeh

There’s something about Arabic desserts that I love. If I had to choose between any Arabic sweet and a piece of cake, the Arabic sweet usually wins out. One of my favorites [there really are too many to name] is Muhallabiyeh مهلبية. I vividly remember eating Muhallabiyeh out of small chilled bowls as a child at my Tayta’s house. So sweet, so cold, and so delicious. No one makes the dessert quite like my Tayta.

At her prime – or at least when she had enough energy to cook – she made some amazing desserts. They were always readily available when I’d visit her. Her apartment hasn’t changed. Well, except for the informal sitting room, where she replaced a worn out couch with a new seating set. Other than that, the apartment hasn’t changed. And I love it that way. I was reminded how familiar the whole place was when I was over there a couple weeks ago. I wanted to spend some time with Tayta, and I dragged myself straight out of work to drink a cup of Arabic coffee and nibble on some chocolates with her. Way over the age of being babied, I still felt like a child in her home. I don’t think that’s going to ever change. But the reality was, instead of her cooking elaborate meals for me, now I was making her dinner (and doing the dishes). Some days when I visit, she’d treat me to some Muhallabiyeh while we’d sit in front of the TV to catch the latest Turkish drama. Secretly, those were my favorite nights.

So following in my Tayta’s oven mitts, I’ve made my first attempt at Muhallabiyeh. Actually, this is my second attempt. My first attempt was a year or so ago and let’s just say, it was a complete flop.

Muhallabiyeh_2

 

Muhallabiyeh_3

Muhallabiyeh [Arabic Pudding] Recipe

Ingredients

4 cups Cold Milk
1 cup Sugar
4 tablespoons Corn Starch
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon Orange Blossom Water
Raw Pistachios, crushed, for garnish
 

Directions

In a medium pot add the milk, stir in the sugar and the corn starch making sure to dissolve the corn starch
Over high heat, begin stirring the milk mixture with a wooden spoon
You must stir the milk constantly until it boils, if you don’t, the bottom of the pan will burn
Continue stirring until the milk is boiling
You’ll notice the consistency thickening
Add Orange Blossom Water
Allow the milk to boil for 10-15 minutes on medium-low heat, while continuing to stir
Pour the Muhallabiyeh into small glass containers
Allow the Muhallabiyeh to cool, then cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours
Remove top the Muhallabiyeh with crushed pistachios before serving

 

Servings: 4

 

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Cherry Blueberry Stars and Stripes Pie

StarsandStripesPie_2

Happy Birthday, America!

This year, we were lucky enough that July 4 fell on a Friday, giving us all an extra-long weekend to celebrate everything red, white and blue. If you haven’t picked up on it already, I’m all about themes. If there’s a theme, I’m on it.

Independence Day is always celebrated with Friends, Family, Food and Fireworks. All of which I checked off my list. On the 4th, I braved the masses and Metroed into DC to watch the fireworks by the Monument. The metro was crowded, as expected. And the National Mall was also crowded, which I also expected. It’s been a couple years since I actually went to the Mall to catch the fireworks, but my friend, we’ll call her Nani, and I decided to make a date out of it. We packed a picnic — picnic basket and blanket and all — and staked out a spot on the grass. It was a great way to spend the evening, in our red, white and blue outfits (and my American flag themed nails).

photo 3-2

Nails

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, Independence Day celebrations did not end on the 4th, because I went right ahead and continued celebrating through the rest of the weekend. We pulled together a little BBQ and I got to showing my patriotism via pie. So this recipe is pretty simple, it doesn’t get any easier than this … the creativity lies in coming up with your design.

Adapted from Woman’s Day

StarsandStripesPie

Cherry Blueberry Stars and Stripes Pie Recipe

Ingredients

2 21oz cans Cherry Pie Filling
1 21oz Can Blueberry Pie Filling
1 box Pillsbury Pie Crusts
Pie dish
Coarse Sanding Sugar (I used Sugar in the Raw)
1 Egg white
9-inch Pie Dish
Star cookie cutter

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 F
On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the pie crusts. Using a rolling pin, roll until about 12 inches
Then carefully place into your 9-inch pie dish, making sure that there are no bubbles and allowing the additional crust to come out over the edges of the pan
Use a clean piece of cardboard to create a 90 degree angle in the top left hand corner of the pie dish
Spoon the blueberry filling into the square
Keeping the cardboard in place, spoon the cherry filling into the rest of the pie dish, set aside
Unroll the second pie crust onto a lightly floured surface and roll out with a rolling pin
Using a pastry knife or a sharp knife, cut 1-inch strips out of the crust and using the cookie cutter, cut stars out of the rest of the crust
Cut two of the strips in half, for the top portion then sprinkle all the strips and stars with sugar
Brush with beaten egg white
Carefully remove the cardboard from your pie and begin placing the strips on the cherry portion of the pie, press the outer edges into the crust
Then place your stars on the blueberry portion of the pie
Carefully roll the edges of your crust around the pie dish — feel free to get creative
Sprinkle the outer edges with sugar and brush with egg white
Bake for 30 minutes
Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes
Serve warm with your favorite vanilla ice cream
 

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Samboosa [Meat and Cheese Filled Pastries]

Samboosa

Ramadan Kareem!

Yesterday marked the first day of the holy month of Ramadan – where billions of people around the world refrain from food and drink from sunrise until sunset for 29-30 days based on the lunar calendar. It is a time to reflect on your life, reconnect with god and be thankful for everything you have, most notably a kitchen full of food (which those less fortunate do not have the luxury of having).

As Ramadan creeps into the hot summer months, it’s a conflicted feeling simultaneously looking forward to and dreading the fast. The long, hot days make me miss the years Ramadan fell in the winter, closer to Christmas and Thanksgiving when we could break our fast at 4:30pm as opposed to 8:40pm in the summer months.

But it isn’t the long days that do me in; it’s my need for coffee in the morning to get me going.

Ramadan is an exciting month for so many reasons – really all the Iftars to look forward to. With limited weekends, invitations for Itfar go out at least a month in advance. I’m booked pretty much every weekend, and the month just began! It’s a time when friends and family gather, we talk about our long work hours, how we managed to sneak in a quick nap at work – the stories I’ve heard are hilarious, how we’re planning to actually lose weight this year and the silly stories of trying to explain why we fast to those who don’t practice.

Living in the U.S. has proved a little more difficult than those living in the Middle East. We have more explaining to do “Correct, we can’t drink water either,” we go out of our way to make sure the kids feel like it’s their holiday and we can’t escape the smell of food.

When we were kids, barely making it through half-day fasts, my cousins and I used to gather at my Aunt’s house for Iftar almost every weekend. She decorated her home with lights and set up special Arabic-style seating. She really made us feel like Ramadan was a special time… that it was our holiday and we celebrated it. Along with dates and water, lentil soup and samboosas were a staple. If it wasn’t for our mothers making us eat main dishes, we could have easily filled up on these savory meat-filled pastries. Not an iftar went by without them.

 

Samboosa_2

Samboosa Recipe

Ingredients

1 package Wonton Wrappers
1 Egg White
2 tablespoons Water
Vegetable oil for frying
1 lb Ground Beef
Salt, to taste
1 tablespoon Seven Spice
1 small Onion, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup Crumbled Feta Cheese
2 tablespoons Zaatar

 

Directions

Start by preparing the stuffing. You can make two types of stuffing; meat or cheese
For the meat stuffing, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a frying pan
Sautee the chopped onion until translucent
Add the ground beef and brown with the onion, add salt and seven spice
Drain the meat and then put it in a food processor and pulse until it is chopped up very fine, set aside
For the cheese stuffing, mix together the feta and zaatar in a bowl, crumble until fine with a fork, or put in the food processor
Now you can begin putting the samboosa together
In a small bowl, mix together the egg white and water and keep close by
Using a small spoon, hold the wonton wrapper in one hand and spoon the stuffing across the middle
Pull together the corners so that you create a triangle shape
Brush the inside of the triangle with the egg white mixture and press together until the edges stick and place on a baking tray
Repeat with the rest of the wonton wrappers and stuffing
Once you’ve stuffed and assembled all your samboosas, heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan
Make sure the oil is very hot before you begin frying
Add as many samboosas as you can into the oil and brown on each side. If the oil is very hot, it’ll only take a couple minutes per side
Remove the samboosas from the oil with tongs onto paper towels
Repeat with all the samboosas
Serve warm
 

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Cream Puff Cake

Cream Puff cake

Every occasion is an excuse to craft. At least, that’s my philosophy.

My mom’s birthday at the end of June marks the last of our June festivities. But that’s not to say we don’t go all out! The minimum in our household is a family birthday celebration that includes singing happy birthday and a birthday cake. As the siblings have gotten older, that’s the least we can dedicate to our parents – you know, those people who brought us into this world and spent years raising us. They deserve to tell us our birth story and fawn over us for a couple hours.

My mom, she’s the glue that holds our family together. She does so much for us, and really doesn’t expect anything in return. This year, it was just me here to hold down the fort and make sure she got the special birthday celebration she deserved.

Birthday cakes are so cliché, and cupcakes are a bit overdone. Well, to be honest, I’m not the best cake or cupcake decorator. So in an attempt to think outside the proverbial box, I came up with a cream puff cake. I was really excited about the idea because instead of being forced to eat a slice of cake, you could just take a couple cream puffs and call it a day. Despite some minor setbacks during the execution of this cream puff cake, I made it work.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Materials

  • 1 Hershey’s Bar
  • 1 small tube Decorating Gel
  • 2 boxes Vanilla Pudding Mix
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 containers 30 count Frozen Cream Puffs
  • Cake Box
  • 1 14-inch Cake Base
  • Piping bag
  • Wide-nose flower metal piping end

Directions

Before you can start assembling your cream puff cake, you’ll need to mix together your cream and refrigerate until it thickens. To do this, mix together the vanilla pudding mix, 1 cup of milk and 2 cups of heavy whipping cream in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until it becomes a thick, smooth consistency. Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes.

 

Cream Ingredients

 

Next, you’ll need to prepare your writing slab. I took the easy way our and just used a Hershey’s bar instead of melting my own chocolate. We’ll chalk that up to running out of time and still trying to figure out how to melt white chocolate.

This part is easy. Just write your message using the decorating gel on the smooth side of the chocolate bar. Refrigerate until your ready to use it.

Hershey bar and gelMessage Slab

 

Now it’s time to assemble your cream puff cake.

What I did first, was place all my cream puffs where I wanted them on the cake base. That way, I had a visual for placement. Once I knew where I wanted eat one to go, I used a small spoon to add some cream to the bottom of each cream puff, that way it won’t slide off the cake base.

Placement Puffs

Setting cream

Now that the first layer of cream puffs is set, fill your piping bag with the remaining cream and using a wide-nosed nozzle, fill the spaces in between the cream puffs.

piping

 

You’ll notice that it still looks a bit bare. Start adding a second layer of cream puffs on top of the filling, then go back over the holes with your piping bag.

cream puff cake sans slab

 

Top the cream puff cake off with the Hershey bar and carefully place in the cake box for transport. Keep Refrigerated.

Cream Puff Cake in Box

Croissant Breakfast Casserole

Breakfast Casserole

It’s graduation day! Our youngest brother, Tarik, is leaving high school behind to start his journey in college.

It’s a big day for us all. It always seems like the youngest takes forever to catch up to the rest of us who have already found our career paths, or are finishing up college in that first step towards adulthood and responsibility. So when the youngest of the pack is growing up and reaching a major benchmark, that’s a pretty big deal.

So, like all graduations, we’ve picked out our best outfits, careful not to clash with the royal blue cap and gown Tarik would be wearing. We charged up our phones and cameras and even made him a tacky sign to hold up as he made his way across the stage.

Since I had taken the day off to prep for this grand occasion, [read prep as try to sleep on past 7am, make a last minute sign and pick out an outfit], I woke up with a streak of energy … Cooking energy. I wanted to send off our baby with the breakfast of champions.

So at roughly 7:30am I made my coffee, and got to cooking. What I came up with was a savory croissant breakfast casserole.

Breakfast Casserole_2

Croissant Breakfast Casserole Recipe

Ingredients

4 Small Potatoes, chopped
1/2 Roma Tomato, chopped
1 Small Onion, chopped
1 can Mushrooms
Turkey Bacon
6 Eggs
1/4 cup Milk
1 can Reduced Fat Crescent Rolls
1 cup chopped Baby Spinach
1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Directions

Bake the crescent rolls as directed. After cooling, cut the rolls length wise, separating the bottoms from the top. Set aside
Meanwhile, cook the turkey bacon and then chop coarsely
In a large pan sauté the onion and potatoes until soft remove from the pan and set aside
Place the bottoms of the crescent rolls in the bottom of the baking pan, bottom side up
Whisk together the eggs and milk then pour over the rolls
Add the potatoes, making sure to cover the whole pan
Sprinkle the chopped bacon on top
Sprinkle the shredded cheese and then the spinach
Place the crescent tops on top of everything
Bake for 30 minutes, until the eggs are set

 

Servings: 6

TarikandBanner

TarikandMe

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