Blueberries, Cinnamon and Happiness

I love fruits in dessert. I am not a huge fan of tons of chocolate (don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate) but only because I feel that I get a headache from all the sugar. There are important people in my life who wholly disagree because they believe that fruits do not belong in baked goods because then it adds a “healthy” factor to them, but oh well, can’t understand everyone’s logic =). So when mom asked me to make a dessert for family that was coming over to break their fast I was going to make a plain yellow cake until I came up with this idea. It is an adaptation from Annie’s Eats ( cinnamon pull apart bread. Originally what I was going to do was just include some kind of fruit sauce to pour on top but then I got an even better idea–make small cinnamon rolls with fruit baked into them and a fruit syrup drizzled on top. Great, no?

So I set off on this journey when I got home from work and right after I put everything in the bowl to start mixing, I got an important phone call from one of my best friends that I chose to take out in the garage, in the heat. It was a great call, then I went back inside and the yeast started to do it’s work before mixing it! Anyways, thinking I messed up everything, I mixed it and let it rise. In the meantime I found a recipe for blueberry sauce, can you imagine it literally only took 10 minutes to make?! I was AMAZED–had I known this a long time ago, I would have been making sauces for EVERYTHING! And then I cut up strawberries in small tiny pieces to roll into the dough when it was finished rising.

Once the dough was completely done with rising, I broke it into two pieces and set the other one aside. I have to say the dough was so easy to roll out, it took just a couple of tries with my rolling in and it was completely ironed out on my work surface. It smelled great, it rolled great, and boy was I excited.

Overall, the experience was a great one, my cousin ate like 10 and everyone else ate some. And most of all, I got a great review from my toughest critics, my parents! Especially…my dad–he said they were phenomenal and that was enough for me.


Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread (

For the dough:
2¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
¼ cup granulated sugar
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
½ tsp. salt
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
¼ cup water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs

For the filling:
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Mix all the dry ingredients, then add melted butter and the rest of the wet ingredients. Mix until tacky and in one cohesive ball–you can add flour in the process. Knead for about 3-5 minutes and then transfer to an oiled bowl. Roll once in the bowl to ensure coverage and let it rise for an hour covered in a warm spot.

Blueberry Sauce:

2 cups of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup of orange juice
1/4 cup water
3 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cold water

Heat water, blueberries, and orange juice in a medium saucepan on medium heat until boiling. In the meantime, mix 1 tbsp at a time of cornstarch, with a fork, in the cold water until it is all dissolved. When the blueberries are boiling, add the sugar and stir until it is all dissolved. At that point add in the cornstarch mixture a little at a time and continue to stir. Once it is all added, keep stirring and lower the heat. Voila! All done :)




A Reflection of 10 years….

***Disclaimer: This is NOT a celebration of any death at any time, but this is my reflection on the past 10 years as a Muslim-American and what all this recent news translates to me. I don’t believe that I, or any other person, can judge any human being. I will leave that up to God. This is just my reflection of 10 years about a character who seemed to change the world around me.***

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem  (In the name of God, most Gracious most Merciful)

I am writing this in reflection of the most recent news of Osama bin Laden’s death. When I first heard there was a national security issue to be addressed at 10:30 pm on a Sunday night, I assumed it was something about Libya. Then leaked sources stated it wasn’t, and I started to worry that my worst nightmare has come to realization: A tyrannosaurus rex was cloned and had gotten lose in North Carolina. All the scenes from Jurassic Park started to replay in my head and I started to think of places to take cover and if I had enough gas in my car to get me far. But it wasn’t… and the rumors started to come out that maybe bin Laden was dead….officially. I actually had my doubts, we haven’t heard much from him recently and I figured he had been dead for awhile.

I was shocked. When it was actually announced, then I was ecstatic, then I was worried, then I reflected. This is what caught me.

Ten years ago, I was taking a math test in my 8th grade pre-Algebra class. And a teacher rushed in and told us to stop and watch the news. I remember seeing the World Trade Center in smoke, the first plane had just hit and no one knew what was going on–by the time we got to PE–it was confirmed this was an attack. It was an attack claimed by al-Qaeda, lead by a man named Osama bin Laden. I had no clue who they were and they sounded Arab, so I started to get nervous. What made me even more nervous was that my teachers were crying and calling their families in New York and I was getting stares…lots of them.

I guess it’s no surprise when you are one of the 2-3 girls wearing a scarf on your head at the time of a national crisis that involves people that look just like you. I was lucky though, I had my cousin with me in school and I felt safe with her. The following weeks were OK and I had great teachers, counselors, neighbors and friends who were nothing but supportive and loving. I know there were others that were not so lucky…

But given recent events, I thought about the past 10 years, and I realized something.

I have become a stronger, more confident Muslim woman.

I am proud of what I wear on my head. It has made me who I am today. And I know that every time I put on my hijab (headscarf) and walk out the door, I am fighting that stereotype that Mr. bin Laden set up. I know that I am counteracting every single stupid stereotype people have a Muslim woman. I work, I go to school, I have a life, feelings, independent thought (sometimes too much for my parents and probably too much for my own good–but it works out). No person can deprive me of my right to live a life that I have worked hard for and I will not allow anyone on either extreme to intimidate me. I have been taught well by my teachers to stand up and stand tall because what I wear on my head, and what I believe is not something that shameful. It’s what makes me, me.

So if anything, thank you bin Laden, for trying so hard, because you made me want to try even harder to be a better person and a better representative of Islam. Because you were not.

Ina Garten’s Chicken Pot Pie…My way :)

So I love chicken pot pie. It’s such a southern food and it makes me happy. Unfortunately it’s usually chock full of sodium, fat, and well more fat. But I took some stuff out of it and made it my way: I tried to cut out the saturated fats, carbs and the TONS of butter. I really liked it, my MOM really liked it.. So here you go y’all. Sorry this is sans pictures because, I was hungry and I forgot to take pictures as went along.

Start to Finish: 20 minutes


1 cup of chopped carrots

1/2 of green beans

1 cup of corn

1/2 cup of finely chopped potatoes

(Honestly add any kind of veggie you want here, I didn’t have the potatoes)

Approximately .25 lbs of chicken breast

3/4 cup of flour

3 tbsp of “Smart Butter” –i.e. vegetable spread that goes soft, almost liquid if at room temp.

1 chicken/veggie bullion

2 cups water

1/2 cup of milk (I used 2%)


**Bake chicken breast before using in the oven at 350 F*

1. Put water and bullion in a pot  to make a stock. Put on med-high.

2. Add in 1/2 cup of milk.

3. Once the mixture starts to heat up, add butter in.

4. Allow to start boiling and add in flour. This step is critical. As you add the flour in you MUST whisk it, otherwise it will clump and look gross. Continue to whisk really fast until the mixture is smooth.

5. Add in veggies and allow to boil, but lower temperature to about medium. I personally like my veggies a little on the crispy side so I don’t let them boil as much.

6. Cut up chicken breast that you baked and add into mixture.

7. Salt and pepper to taste!