Lunchtime special

So in an effort to eat better and more “wholesome” I’ve decided to blog a special lunchtime post. For lunch today I had a spring mix salad with cherry glazed chicken breast and balsamic vinaigrette. On the side I had a container of Oikos greek yogurt (Super Fruits flavor). But the point of this post is to share the quick cherry glaze chicken breast recipe. It’s a quick put together and a great result. I actually made it a couple of nights ago and kept it in the fridge. I liked it better cold than hot, because when it’s cold or room temperature the flavor of the cherries comes out more. It’s one of those things that is a great supplement to a light meal–salad, pasta, etc. So… here it is (sorry I forgot to take pictures before I devoured it).

Cherry Glazed Chicken Breast

1 chicken breast
1/2 cup of finely chopped cherries
1 garlic clove
pinch of salt
1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp + 2 tbsp of olive oil

Chopping cherries is a pain in the head, so what I suggest doing is pitting them and then throwing them in a blender with the garlic clove, salt, 2 tbsp of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Pulse the blender/food processor and when it is almost a paste take it out and put it in a bowl. Add your chicken and kind of paint the paste on there. Once that’s done, let it sit for at least 15 minutes (you can wrap it and leave it over night in the fridge too).  Heat up a small sauce pan with the olive oil to MEDIUM heat. Do not put it on high, this is very critical! Once the oil is runny instead of just…oil, add the chicken, whatever is left in the bowl of the paste and then cover it. Let it cook like that for about 5-7 minutes, flip and repeat. If you have the heat too high it will cook the outside too fast and not the inside and you’ll end up with crispy burnt chicken.

Once it is completely cooked through (I like to cut it open in the middle to be sure), cut it up or serve it whole.


Contest Announced!

Asalam Alaikum (Peace be unto you) everyone!

So after much thought and a little bit of consulting with some people I trust their opinion I have decided to run the contest as such–each week there will be a different challenge. It could be a question, request, etc. and each week will have it’s own rules which I will explain in the blog post. The contests will go up on Monday and close on Wednesday. Each week a different charity will be chosen and I will donate a certain amount each week in that person’s name. Each week the winner will also get a treat mailed to them from that week’s blog posts. Let’s see how much money we can raise :).

This first week the winner will win French Quarter Beignets in a cute little box. The challenge is still being thought out so be on the lookout for first thing Monday morning, God willing!


This week’s teaser…

I went through the last week of Ramadan baking my brains out, so this is a visual teaser of what you will see this coming week in terms of blog posts. I am going to start a contest every week for a different baked thing  (each week) and will determine how the winner will be chosen. Be on the lookout!

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Happy Pumpkin Yeast Bread for My Teta

Greetings all! I hope everyone had a wonderful, safe, and happy Eid. It’s been crazy with work, weddings, and family so I’ve been a little behind on posting. But no worries, I have a stockpile of things I made the past two weeks so I’ll share with you slowly so as not to put you in shock haha..just kidding.

This post is dedicated to my maternal Teta (grandmother) and how she taught me how to make “happy” things. I bake for a lot of reasons, sometimes to think, sometimes to make me feel better, sometimes to reflect, and sometimes I bake when I’m stressed and sad. My teta taught me always to make my things “happy” (or rather “habbee” with her accent). Teta is one of the heroine’s of my life. She came to America not knowing a lick of english and raised 7 children mostly on her own while my grandfather was off studying in Irving, Texas. She is probably one of the strongest women I know and in turn gave me the strength to face the world. I consider her my second mother and I love her so much. When I was a kid she would let me help her bake cakes, she taught me how to sew, knit, crochet, cross stitch and embroider. I always took them for granted until I got older and I started to use them for various things and I learned how useful those skills were to have. My teta was always there when I was upset and needed someone to vent to–and she always steered me in the right direction. She told me never to speak in vain, hate, or hold grudges. I am ashamed to cry in front of people, but never in front of her because I know there is always comfort in her arms. She is one of the most beautiful women I have met in my life, her skin is the softest and she always smells like gardenias. The most comfortable place to lay my head is always in her lap, I don’t care how old I get–she is my comfort. So this happy bread is dedicated to her =).

What you need:

1 1/2 cups of pureed pumpkin
approx 6 1/2 cups of flour
2 tbsp of active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2/3 cup milk
2 tbsp oil
2 eggs
1/2 tsp of salt

First mix the yeast and the warm water and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Once that is done mix in the milk, eggs, pureed pumpkin, and oil. Make sure the mixture is smooth and then slowly start adding the flour about 1 1/2 cups at a time and mix in each time. Keep adding until you have about 5 cups in there and at that point it will be tacky but not completely solidified. Then add the last cup and start kneading with your hands, the point where you can knead the and the dough no longer sticks to your hand (as if it was going to eat you) is the point wehre you can turn it out on the floured surface. Add the last 1/2 cup of flour to that as you knead. Knead until your bread is smooth and “happy.” At this point, oil a clean bowl and turn the dough around in it, saran wrap it or cover it with a warm damp towel.

After about 45 min-1 hr or whenever the dough doubles in size you can take it out on a well oiled surface and knead it one more time into a happy lump. Then split it in half, line a loaf pan with parchment paper or oil it well. I prefer parchment paper because it usually means I don’t have to wash dishes afterwards. Roll out one half into almost a sub roll that will fit the loaf pan and then place in the loaf pan and wrap again for the second rise. The other half you can divide up into equal pieces and roll into little buns or rolls, place in a flat pan also lined with parchment paper. I used a pizza pan so that the bottoms baked evenly, but any flat pan will work. Wrap them like you did the loaf and let the loaf and roll rise again for about 45 minutes. In this time, heat up the oven to 350F.

Once the second rise is complete place in the oven and keep a close eye, I would say between 30-40 minutes until the tops of the bread rolls and loaf are golden brown and have risen. I wish I actually timed this but honestly I was goofing around the house with my siblings and/or talking to my mom until I remembered I had bread in the oven and ran downstairs like a mad woman =).

Enjoy with some butter and jam! The blackberry preserves in the picture are homemade by yours truly and will be featured sometime this week, God willing. =)

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Tortellini Vegetable Soup

Asalaam alaikum and greetings to all!

So earlier this week I made a tortellini vegetable soup that I promised I would put up on my blog. To be completely honest, I don’t think I took any pictures throughout this process but I feel that I can accurately describe how to do it. I have to say this dish was a hit and I’m really happy everyone loved it! So first off we have to talk about making the tortellini (because me and my crazy self decided to do it on my own).

I’ve always been mesmerized by the concept of how pasta is made, I attempted to make it several years back with some ravioli and it came out OK. I attempted to make Japanese pan fried noodles and they were OK. But I think this time, according to those who ate it, the tortellini was on point–so I will share my thoughts/process. First off I followed a recipe to make sure I was doing it right, but a bunch of it I didn’t do. To start off typically they tell you to put the flour on a surface, breaks some eggs in a well in the middle, and mix it. I always end up getting eggs all over the counter and trying to stop the flow of eggs OFF the counter, so do this in a bowl. Measure out 3 1/2 cups of flour and break 4 eggs in the middle. Mix until you can’t mix anymore. It will look gloppy and messed up and ugly–BUT DON’T PANIC! Pull out a food processer and throw it in there at high speed for about 3 minutes or until it becomes this pretty put together ball. Once that’s done, the hard part comes out, because you have to now kneed it by hand. It’s a little awkward to be honest and you will grunt like a caveman because this dough is not easy. The basic process is push out with your fingers away from you, fold over, push in with the bottom of your hand. Say it again with me:

Push away with your fingers

Fold over

Push in with the bottom of your hand

Kind of flirting with the dough, pushing away, folding in then knocking them out with your amazingness. Yeah–that was cheesy, I was trying to be funny. Anyways! Once that becomes a smooth ball of dough and you can indent it with your thumb (just slightly, don’t poke a hole in it!) and it comes back up, then it’s ready! Wait….not completely. Now you have to wrap it with plastic wrap and let it sit for like an hour at least, at room temperature. This allows it to relax and become workable.

So while that’s sitting you can make the filling, which is SUPER HARD! Be prepared… just kidding. Take about 4 tablespoons of ricotta, 1 cup of mozzarella (because I love cheese…), and about 2 tbsp of romano and mix it all together. Tangent: When I did this I used fresh romano, I love the taste and I was so proud of myself that I finally bought like a box grater for like 2 bucks and I wanted to use it. NO ONE TOLD ME ROMANO IS STINKY! It smelled so bad in the kitchen and mom started yelling at me but, alas, it tasted amazing! Anyways mix that up and put a lid on it so that it doesn’t stink up your kitchen.

When the hour or so is over (it really doesn’t have to be precise)–unwrap the dough and cut a quarter out of it then wrap the rest of the dough back up. You don’t need flour on your surface because this dough does not stick–or it shouldn’t. So you roll out the dough by pushing in the  middle, roll away, middle, roll towards you. Then turn, and do the same until it’s about 1/8″ thin or if you put your phone underneath it you can see your screensaver/colors/whatever you can see on your phone. Or you can just use a debit card or something, whatever you choose, I don’t like putting rules on cooking. Cut about 1 1/2″ circles out of something, I used a water bottle mouth because I couldn’t find something else, some people are cool and have biscuit cutters, I’m not so I improvise. Stack ’em, and then grab your stinky cheese and put a 1/8 teaspoon in each one. Now here comes the somewhat tricky part, some recipes call for water to seal the edges, I didn’t need that most of the time. If your dough is a little dry, just have a little bowl of water next to you to dab some on your finger to wipe on the edges. Once you have the cheese in the dough, fold it in half, and seal. THEN fold that in half long ways and put one arm over the other. Think of like what you’re supposed to sit like feet crossed at the angles and hands folded over each other on one knee and do that with the arms of the dough. Make them proper. And then voila! You have made tortellini–now do this 10 bazillion more times. My advice is break it up into sittings, I didn’t do this all at once, every time I made a set I would put them away and go do something else. It’s also helpful to let them dry before putting them away. Just put them in a cookie sheet with a towel in it and the tortellini on top.

Now… for the soup!

Prepare the amount of stock you want in the soup, this is the liquid part of the soup and it really depends on each person. Because I had so many people coming over I made about 15 cups of water and 4 chicken bullion, but for 2-4 people I would make about 6 cups and 1-1 1/2 bullion. So then I chopped up zucchini, squash, and threw in 2 cans of drained petite diced tomatoes, salt and dumped pepper by accident. Once that began to boil I added in frozen chopped spinach. I gave that time to cook (about 30 minutes) to soften the fresh veggies a little and then threw in the tortellini for a good 15-20 minutes. I didn’t want the tortellini to bust, so I turned off the stove and let it sit fora  good 30-40 minutes (until it was time to serve).

Enjoy!! Let me know if you have any questions :)

Happy Birthday Baby Brother =)

Dear Salahideen–

You probably won’t read this anytime soon, but in the hopes that one day you will want to find material to tease me about I am writing to you this letter with the hopes you will come across it (inshaAllah).

I remember the day mom told me she was going to have another baby, I was with her in the carpool line waiting for the rest of the siblings to finish school. She had just picked me up from middle school–I was in 7th grade to be exact. She got quiet and she said, “Sara, I have something to tell you,” and to be honest I got a little scared, she continued, “InshaAllah you are going to have another brother or sister.” I was ECSTATIC and then it hit me, there would be 13 years between us and to me that was just insane. I already have 10 years on Muhammad, now I was going to have 13 years on you! The time passed and names were argued upon, I remember Yusuf being a contender, which by the way, since mom and dad didn’t take it I really want that name for one of my sons inshaAllah =). Time started to pass and mom grew and grew, she also got bored and painted a mural to keep herself busy during the pregnancy.

Soon it came time for you to come out, August 2001. But of course, you having Haddad blood, were just a litte stubborn and did NOT want to come out. It was HOT outside and mom would walk every night trying to go into labor, she ate spicy food (which we know she can’t handle) and was just trying to get you to cooperate! Finally one night, she thought it was time and Samira was actually spending the night at our house, we all ended up at Aamou Aboud’s house with the hopes we would wake up with a baby brother and cousin. Our wish came true, you came around 4 am on August 9th, 2001. I remember going to visit you in the hospital and holding you for the first time. You were my baby brother and I was able to hold you on my own without anyone bothering me! That night I spent it in the hospital with mom and you. I remember the AC was on so high and I had my cot underneath the vent so I had a cough. But I was so scared that if they thought I was sick that they wouldn’t let me near you and I didn’t want to be away from you, you were so special to me. I didn’t sleep the whole night trying to keep my cough down.

Then a month later, something crazy happened, September 11th. You won’t remember this cause you were only a month old but it changed our world. I remember you were the reason I would come home every day excited from school because you were like my teddy bear, except better. You started to grow and develop. You learned to laugh and giggle and play games. I liked to hold you because you would snuggle up in my arms, fall asleep, and then we would both sleep on the couch. Mama would get SOOOO mad at me because I used you as an excuse to sleep all day, I can’t help it you were so cuddly.

You then learned to crawl, soon after how to walk. One time I was playing with you and had you bouncing on my chest while I was lying flat on the floor, you giggled until you threw up…. literally…in my mouth. I remember feeding you, I remember how you used to torture our cat Cleo. She would sleep and you would crawl up to her and poke her–so in return she would do the same to you.

Soon enough you started to dance and talk in full sentences. You used to call me “rara” and point to things going “enh enh enh” until we figured out what you want. I remember when you were potty trained and how mama tried for a week. It was only till she gave up and said that she doesn’t care if you want to spend the rest of your life in diapers that she didn’t care, and that was it. You learned to go to the bathroom. I remember when you started pre-school and would cry every day when mom left you to go to her classroom, and the sad part was you would only cry quietly. It’s funny, if I wanted to skip a day at school I used you as an excuse to stay home and take care of you. I remember the times it was just me and you at home and you would sit in my lap and hold my hand.

But alas, you grew up, you started to read and write and have friends. You started to develop into this little man who had a personality and loved Legos. You reminded me of myself a lot, and I see a lot of what I was as a kid in you. You remind me how to be a kid and I know I can run around the house screaming with you. I love coming home at the end of a long hard day because you put a smile on my face and let me know that it will be alright. I don’t know what I would do without you =).

I pray that Allah always guides you on the straightest of paths, I pray that He always keeps harm and those who will harm away from you. I pray that Allah blesses all your actions and makes you the best of people. I pray that He gives you the strength to deal with life and the patience to see past people’s actions. I pray that Allah reminds you to keep up with your prayers, fasting, and religious obligations so that you can be an example for those around you. You have a conscious and such an inquisitive nature and I pray that Allah helps you expand and explore your horizons. This world is a better place with you in it.



You sister, Sara.