4 Graduation Party Desserts To Celebrate Your Grad!

Graduation Desserts
Graduation Desserts

During the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s been bittersweet celebrating my daughter’s graduation from high school, but we’ve done our best to celebrate in many ways, including making as many sweet treats as possible!

We love dessert in our family and, yes, we understand the need to balance healthy food with yummy treats. But, what I”m sharing today is purely sugar based! The best part about making these celebratory desserts was searching for some of the ideas, choosing a theme (pink and blue), and decorating the house.

We received a lawn banner from the school and bought and received balloons as gifts. We decorated inside with balloons, garland, and streamers on archways in the house. And, one night I spent quite a bit of time going through old photos of the first day of school, group school photos, and other fun school and family moments. I put these on poster boards in the hallway and put up a long ‘congratulations’ banner underneath the boards. She absolutely loved this idea and the photos and boards are still up!

Celebrating 2020 Graduates
Celebrating 2020 Graduates

We were still in the ‘shelter at home’ phase when my daughter had her virtual graduation, so it was a nuclear family celebration. My daughter helped me make and decorate these dessert menu items, and we had a lot of fun decorating and catching up together.

Here are the Graduation Desserts we made:

  • Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting And A ‘2020’ Cake Topper
  • Sugar Cookies In Graduation-Themed Shapes
  • Graduation Cap Cupcakes
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

The details:

Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese - Graduation Cake With Topper
Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese – Graduation Cake With Topper

Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting And A ‘2020’ Cake Topper

Follow this link for the recipe for this carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. It’s my go-to cake and I have made it hundreds of times. To make it special, I used pink chocolate melts and cream to make the drip for the cake, and I made a topper with the numbers ‘2020’. This topper made the cake!

To make this topper, I melted the pink chocolate melts in a double boiler and placed the melted chocolate in an icing tube. I traced the numbers on a piece of parchment paper and piped the outline and inside of the numbers with the melted chocolate. Cover with sprinkles and place in the fridge for ten minutes. Flip the hardened number over, add a baking stick, and ‘glue’ on with more icing. Very easy. I got the idea from Sugar & Sparrow and you can watch this quick video on how to do this by clicking here.

Graduation Cookies
Graduation Cookies

Sugar Cookies In Graduation-Themed Shapes

To make these graduation-themed sugar cookies, I followed this recipe that I’ve shared in the past. The recipe makes about 70 cookies, so make half if you want less. I went to the bulk food store to find cookie cutters shaped like a graduation cap, plaques, and the numbers ‘2’ and ‘0’.

Graduation Cookies
Graduation Cookies

We also made some heart-shaped cookies as well as spring daisy flowers. We iced them with the icing the recipe calls for and accented them with store-bought icing and sprinkles.

Graduation Cap Cupcakes
Graduation Cap Cupcakes

Graduation Cap Cupcakes

I cannot take credit for the idea for these cute graduation cap cupcakes! All you have to do is look on Instagram or Pinterest for inspiration. These are cupcakes made from a box and iced with store-bought icing that I colored blue to match our pink and blue theme.

To make the graduation ‘caps’, I used icing to glue a flat piece of chocolate on top of a Reese’s peanut butter cup. For the tassel, I used icing to ‘glue’ on a colored mini M&M to the top of the hat and to glue on cut pieces of Sour Straps candy. You could also use thin licorice pieces.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

This chocolate chip cookie cake is really delicious and a serious show-stopper when it comes to gifting. It’s the easiest of the desserts here, other than the cookies, to gift in a box and be an ‘easy-to-carry’ dessert. This cake is exactly like the Mrs Fields Cookie Cake. Follow this link for the recipe, which is from Garnish & Glaze. I followed the recipe, but baked it in a 9 inch springform pan.

For the icing, I also followed the recipe from Garnish & Glaze. I used sprinkles from Sweetapolita that you can order on amazon.com.

Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese - Graduation Cake With Topper
Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese – Graduation Cake With Topper

And, there you have it. Four easy graduation desserts to celebrate your grad! There is so much room for creativity here, and for time spent in the kitchen with your kids and family. I hope you are inspired to try these desserts for your next celebration!

Email This Post Email This Post Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram

Chocolate Almond Energy Bites – GF & Vegan

Chocolate Almond Energy Bites
Chocolate Almond Energy Bites

I always have energy balls or squares on hand because they’re the perfect snack right before a workout! Sometimes you don’t have time to eat something that takes a lot of prep time before you go for a run or before you head out the door. These chocolate almond bites are perfect as a grab-and-go healthy option.

BTW, you can also check out my recipe for Vegan Chocolate Fudge that I have shared in the past. The ‘fudge’ recipe is date-based whereas the recipe I’m sharing today is made with almond flour.

I’ve tried making energy balls with almond flour in the past and I love the texture and taste of almond flour, so I was very pleased when I came up with this recipe with the addition of cocoa powder.

Chocolate Almond Energy Bites
Chocolate Almond Energy Bites

What I like about making energy balls is the different ways you can ‘dress’ up these treats. Here, I’ve topped them with sea salt, peanuts, and slivered almonds. I highly recommend topping them with either peanuts or almonds  so everyone knows that these energy balls contain nuts! Plus, it’s a fun way to decorate these bites and to make them presentable for gifting.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram

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

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram

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

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram

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

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram

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!

Email This Post Email This Post Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram

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

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram

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.

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram

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

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram

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!

Continue reading

Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram