Sharing My Qatayef Recipe… Along With Sweet Ramadan Memories

Qatayef
Qatayef

Eid Mubarak to all of my friends and followers celebrating this week! Today marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. And, it’s time to celebrate with lots of traditional desserts, like Qatayef!

I grew up in Saudi Arabia where I was lucky enough to experience all of the activities, sights, sounds, and tastes of Ramadan. The night life in the souks was incredible, full of music, open shops, lots of fun foods, and lots of staying up late. One Ramadan night my brother was invited to hang out in a tent under the stars in the desert and I will always remember his description of how magical that experience was.

When I was a kid, Ramadan fell during the hottest months of the year but, because it’s a lunar holiday, it moves back about 11 days a year. That means that it takes about 33 years for Ramadan to complete its cycle and that some years it’s easier to fast than others. For example, the winter months are easier in that the days are shorter, and the summer months are the hardest.

There are many traditions around Ramadan, including the daily Iftar, which is the meal eaten after sunset when breaking the fast for the day. Iftar is a meal often shared with family and friends and there is always lots of food. I loved being invited to my friends’ homes for Iftar and just hanging out. In the Middle East, it’s very common to be invited to business Iftar meals as well. You always wonder what the host will serve and you almost always hope it includes qatayef!

Qatayef are similar to a pancake stuffed with cheese or nuts or ashta (a type of cream). Qatayef are traditionally fried and served with simple syrup and a sprinkling of nuts on top. The qatayef I’m sharing here are not fried because I wanted to keep things light. If you want them fried, shallow fry them in a pan or bake them in the oven after brushing them with some oil. I stuffed these qatayef with a mixture of crushed walnuts, sugar, and orange blossom water.

Qatayef Stuffed With Crushed Walnuts
Qatayef Stuffed With Crushed Walnuts

The best part about making qatayef is the magic of the dough: it’s made with yeast, flour, sugar, baking powder, and water. These simple ingredients result in a pancake-like patty that is not flipped. This way, when you stuff the qatayef, the uncooked side and edges can be pinched onto each other and the qatayef stick together, forming a half-moon shaped dessert.

Here’s the recipe.

Qatayef With Walnuts And Simple Syrup
(Makes about fifteen 4.5 inch qatayef)

Ingredients:

For the Qatayef:
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
2 cups AP flour
2 T sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Water to mix and thin the batter

For the Walnut Stuffing:
1 cup walnuts
1 T sugar
1 tsp orange blossom water

For the Simple Syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Method:

  • In a mini-chopper, place the walnuts, sugar, and orange blossom water and pulse until the walnuts are finely crushed but not pulverized (see photo).
  • Make the simple syrup by heating in a saucepan over medium heat. Boil one minute and remove from the heat.
  • Dissolve the yeast in a few tablespoons of warm water.
  • Mix the flour, sugar, and baking powder in a large bowl and add the yeast mixture to it.
  • Add enough water and keep mixing until the batter reaches the consistency of thin, runny pancake batter.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the batter rest for 30 minutes.
  • Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.
  • Pour the batter into the pan, using a little less than a 1/4 cup measure at a time.
  • Cook until almost all of the bubbles are dry (see photo below).
  • Remove from pan and place on a plate while you make the rest of the qatayef.
  • Stuff with about 1 T of the walnut mixture, and pinch the sides together to form a half moon. The qatayef will stick together easily, which is why they’re only cooked on the one side.
  • Shallow fry and serve with simple syrup…or serve without frying.

Notes:

  • The batter will form more bubbles than a pancake. When the bubbles have popped and the qatayef is almost all cooked, prepare to remove it from the pan and place it on a plate. When I say almost all of the bubble, I mean that you can leave the center bubbles a bit wet because they will cook off of the pan (see photos).
  • There are many different ways to stuff qatayef, including with salty white cheeses like Nabulsi or Akawi, as well as ashta, a type of cream you can buy in Middle Eastern or large grocery stores with ethnic food sections. The white cheese ones need to be fried for the cheese to melt and the ashta ones are often served half opened with a sprinkling of crushed pistachios.
Qatayef Stuffed With Crushed Walnuts
Qatayef Stuffed With Crushed Walnuts

Have you ever had or made qatayef? What are your favorite flavors?

Enjoy!

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Kale Salad With A Tamari Tahini Dressing

Kale Salad With Tamari/Tahini Sauce
Kale Salad With Tamari/Tahini Sauce

One of my favorite salads is kale salad: it’s versatile, healthy, and delicious. As someone who has a salad for dinner almost every night, I have to say that kale salad is at the top of my list. I like it on its own, with added protein, or as a side salad.

Kale is high in antioxidants and full of nutrients like vitamins A, C, and K. In the last few years, kale has been a popular addition to many menus and vegan diets. It’s perfect in salads as well as in soups and other cooked meals.

I love kale because it’s a heartier and a ‘darker greens’ option. It offers a change from romaine, arugula, and spinach salads. When I make kale salad, my husband and kids always like the different ingredient add-ins. I almost always include grated carrots, red peppers, and cucumbers. I add whatever fruits I have on hand, which is great in the spring and summer. And, I have been adding mint and basil, which truly elevates the flavors in the salad.

Kale Salad With Mint
Kale Salad With Mint

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Guacamole Dip – Inspired By Chipotle Restaurants

Guacamole Made With Cilantro
Guacamole Made With Cilantro

Guacamole has got to be one dish we can all agree on! It’s a great snack and the perfect appetizer for any gathering. It’s also the star of any Mexican-themed dinner: without guacamole, it’s just not the same.

The recipe I’m sharing here is inspired by the guacamole served at Chipotle Restaurants. I used to make guacamole by smashing avocados, adding salt, pepper, dried basil, and some lemon juice. That wasn’t good enough for my kids and husband. They kept talking about the Chipotle recipe. Of course, everything tastes better when it’s made my someone else…I get it! But, I really wanted to understand how Chipotle made their guacamole.

For some time, Chipotle had their recipe on their website. But, lately I can’t find it. If you search for the recipe online, there are several blogs that reference the original recipe, which means it was posted somewhere, at some time in the past. The tastiest ingredient in this guacamole is the fresh cilantro. It gives this dip its signature taste. Of course, the red onion and lime add their own flavors for an overall delicious and tasty dip.

Guacamole Made With Red Onions And Cilantro
Guacamole Made With Red Onions And Cilantro

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How To Make Caramel Popcorn At Home!

Caramel Corn With Sprinkles
Caramel Corn With Sprinkles

Caramel popcorn is my favorite way to eat popcorn and, thank goodness, it’s very easy to make at home! As you know, I have a very sweet tooth, and this popcorn makes it to the top of the list for many reasons.

Caramel corn takes me right back to my childhood when one of my friend’s moms used to make it and sell it out of their house. I would treat myself to it after school on many occasions. Of course, caramel corn also has a nostalgic place in my heart because it reminds me of street fairs and festivals.

To make this caramel corn, I have to admit that I cheat a little bit with the recipe: I use micro-waved popcorn. It’s just easier and  you get to the end result quicker. Of course, it’s healthier and more economical to make it with fresh popcorn that you make in a pot or in a popcorn maker or air popper. But, microwaved popcorn works just as well.

The secret to making this recipe is the baking soda. It makes the caramel sauce foam up and that’s how it becomes easier to spread over more of the popcorn. It ‘grows’ in volume with the soda.

I’m kind of a plain Jane person with my caramel corn, adding sprinkles to it occasionally. You can add many other toppings like candy, pretzels, peanuts, chocolate chips, chocolate drizzle, etc. You decide!

Caramel Corn With Sprinkles
Caramel Corn With Sprinkles

Here’s how I made the Caramel Corn in these photos:

Caramel Corn

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of popped popcorn (or one 85g or 3 oz package of micro-wave popcorn)
  • 1/4 c butter (salted or unsalted)
  • 1/2 c dark brown sugar
  • 2 T white corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 T sprinkles

Method:

  • Prepare popcorn and place it in a large mixing bowl, leaving plenty of room to toss the popcorn with the caramel sauce. Make sure you remove any kernels.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Add the brown sugar and corn syrup and stir until everything is melted together and combined well. It will start to bubble slightly on the sides.
  • Add the soda and vanilla and keep stirring until the mixture foams up. Stir and let it cook for another 30 seconds.
  • Quickly spread the caramel over the popcorn and toss with a spoon until all the popcorn is coated.
  • Add the sprinkles after the popcorn is fully coated and toss again.
Caramel Corn With Sprinkles
Caramel Corn With Sprinkles

Notes:

  • To ensure you separate all the kernels out, I recommend you place the micro-wave popcorn in a bowl and give the bowl a few light tosses so that the kernels settle at the bottom. Use your hands to carefully lift out the popped corn, without any kernels, and place them in your large mixing bowl.
  • Do NOT leave the caramel on the stove while you go do other things. It will burn. And, once you add the vanilla and soda, the mixture may splatter from the vanilla, and it will foam from the soda. You cannot walk away!
  • Work quickly to spread the caramel over the big bowl of popcorn.
  • Do NOT use your hands to toss the caramel and popcorn together – the caramel mixture is super hot!
Caramel Corn With Sprinkles
Caramel Corn With Sprinkles

What have you added to your caramel corn? Comment below!

Enjoy!

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Hello Dollies…With Dates…And With Chocolate Chips

Hello Dollies With Dates
Hello Dollies With Dates

Hello Dollies are the one dessert we can all agree on…as long as I make two flavors!!

You may also know Hello Dollies as Magic Layer Bars or 7 Layer Magic Cookie Bars. The Hello Dolly name seems to be a reference to a scene from Hello Dolly on Broadway. You can read more in this article here.

The classic Hello Dollies recipe includes a graham cracker crust layered with chocolate chips, coconut flakes, nuts, and condensed milk. Eagle Brand shares their recipe on their site but I’m sharing a few twists here. These bars are absolutely delicious, decadent, and soo easy to make!!

Hello Dollies With Chocolate Chips And Butterscotch Chips
Hello Dollies With Chocolate Chips And Butterscotch Chips

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Curry Grilled Shrimp – It’s BBQ Season!

Curry Grilled Shrimp
Curry Grilled Shrimp

It’s BBQ season in most parts of North America, so I’m sharing one of our favorite meals: curry grilled shrimp!

Shrimp is one of the fastest cooking protein sources, it’s low calorie, and makes great leftovers for salads and wraps. (It is high in cholesterol, however, so please note this fact if you are watching your diet for cholesterol intake.)

I usually buy raw, frozen shrimp in the shell. I like them in the shell because I feel that the shell protects them in the freezer. When I make this meal, I take the shrimp out about an hour before I marinate them.

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Easy And Delicious Banana Bread

Banana Bread
Banana Bread

Banana Bread recipes have got to be some of the most popular breads circulating on social media right now! Spending time at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic means that many of us are cooking and baking more. I have seen many versions and recipes of banana bread, but the one I’m sharing here is truly delicious!

I have no idea what recipe I followed prior to this one – that’s how good this recipe is. My dear friend made this banana bread for me one day when I went over to have coffee with her. It’s her mom’s recipe and I had to have it right away. It’s got 1/2 a cup of oil in it and uses no butter. I have to say that I’m not a fan of cakes that uses butter because I prefer the lightness and airiness of oil-based cakes.

It’s optional to add the walnuts, but I find it tastes that much better when you do add the nuts. Feel free to add a handful of mini chocolate chips into the batter. You can also add a sprinkle of coconut flakes or banana chips on top.

Banana Bread
Banana Bread

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The Best Carrot Cake, Ever!

Best Carrot Cake, Ever!
Best Carrot Cake, Ever!

Gonna brag, because my carrot cake recipe is truly world famous! Everyone who tastes it, loves it. It’s the most requested cake by my family and friends. It’s always the birthday cake of choice for my youngest daughter. And, when my neighbor found out he had to follow a gluten-free and dairy-free diet, the first thing he thought about was missing my carrot cake!

You know what they say about needing 10,000 hours to perfect something? Well, I’ve put in the hours because I’ve been making this cake since I was 15. My roommate in high school’s mom made this for us when we first visited and I had to have the recipe.

What makes this carrot cake delicious is the simplicity of the ingredients (the only add-ins are carrots; there are no pineapples, walnuts, raisins, or coconut) as well as the generous 2 cups of grated carrots. It’s also made with 2 cups of sugar, so it’s sweet and moist. I’ve tweaked the original recipe by using 1/2 a cup of yogurt and 1 cup of canola oil, instead of the 1 1/2 cups of oil the original recipe calls for. I think this makes the difference in how moist the cake is. You can, of course, use 1 1/2 cups of oil if you don’t have yogurt on hand (and, if you want to keep the cake portion dairy-free.)

Best Carrot Cake, Ever!
Best Carrot Cake, Ever!

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Easy Chocolate Bark!

Chocolate Bark
Chocolate Bark

There is nothing easier to make than chocolate bark, period. Chocolate bark is one of those desserts that you can make for any occasion: birthdays, holidays, graduations, confirmations, teacher gifts, office treats, hostess gifts, etc. All you need is baking chocolate and your choice of toppings. If you want to be extra fancy, you can use food coloring, different grades of chocolate, and unusual toppings.

With Passover and Easter this week, I thought I would post some fun recipes to make with ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. This Easter white chocolate bark is made with Baker’s White Chocolate, Cadbury Mini Eggs, Sweetapolita Sprinkles, and fresh pistachios. It took about 15 minutes from start to finish. The hard part is waiting for it to firm up!

Chocolate Bark
Chocolate Bark

Here’s how I made this Easter-themed White Chocolate Bark.

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Sheet Pan Gnocchi – A 30 Minute Meal

Sheet Pan Gnocchi
Sheet Pan Gnocchi

During this time of social distancing and self-isolation, some areas of our lives are getting more attention, like home cooked meals. My husband and daughter have been home for the past ten days and we are enjoying each other’s company as well as looking forward to evening meals together. One of the meals that is getting the thumbs up around here is my sheet pan gnocchi!

Sheet pan gnocchi is one of the easiest and tastiest meals to make, for several reasons. First, it’s a ‘one sheet pan’ meal, which means you’re cleaning up one pan. I line mine with foil and parchment paper and nothing could be simpler to clean up. Second, this recipe is flexible: you can add whatever vegetables you have in the fridge. This means it’s a different meal each time and it means you waste less food. Third, you can serve this recipe straight from the pan just the way it is, or you can add a red tomato sauce to it and add more protein in the form of chicken, fish, or red meat. And, lastly, gnocchi has a relatively long shelf life. Keep a few packs on hand and you can make this meal anytime you want.

Sheet Pan Gnocchi
Sheet Pan Gnocchi

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