Homemade Mini Manakeesh & Mini Pizzas!    

Mini pizzas and mini manakeesh
Mini pizzas and mini manakeesh

Are you a fan of homemade manakeesh and pizza? Are you picky about your toppings? Would you like to make your own mini manakeesh and pizzas at home?

Enter these mini pizzas, a recipe from my friend’s mom, Aunty Basima. She is one amazing cook and, as kids and young adults growing up in Saudi Arabia, we all loved being invited over for any meal she created. Aunty Basima is an expert in Middle Eastern food, especially Palestinian food. She ran a successful catering business for many years, and you had to book her way ahead of time to avoid disappointment.

When we visited my friend in LA a few years ago, she made her mom’s manakeesh recipe for us as a snack. They were soft, doughy, light, and delicious. So, I got her mom’s recipe, and now I’m sharing it. I’ve made these pizza and manakeesh combinations at least 30 times since, and they’re a hit every time.

BTW, manakeesh is the plural of the word manoushe, a Lebanese grab and go snack that you can find in many bakeries around Lebanon. Piping hot is how you want to eat them. They’re like a thin crust pizza, topped with zaatar, which is an herb mix of dried, crushed thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac. You add oil and spread the mixture on the dough.  Then you top it with labneh, tomatoes, olives, mint. Yummm.

There are many reasons we love mini pizzas and manakeesh at our house. For one, everyone makes their own pizza and adds their own toppings; no complaints about what to include/exclude. Secondly, this recipe makes anywhere from 4-5 dozen pizzas. Thirdly, they freeze really well and make for great snacks, appetizers, and lunches.

I haven’t tried making this recipe with gluten-free ingredients or without dairy, but I’m sure you can experiment and try.

Mini pizzas and mini manakeesh
Mini pizzas and mini manakeesh

In terms of toppings, here’s what we made this weekend, from left to right:

  • Pizzas topped with peppers, mushrooms, olives, cheese, and some with salami pieces
  • Manakeesh topped with zaatar, peppers, mushrooms, olives, and cheese
  • Manakeesh with sugar, sesame seeds, ground anise, and olive oil
  • Manakeesh with zaatar
Here’s the recipe for the dough.
Mini Pizza and Mini Manakeesh Dough
Ingredients:
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c canola or vegetable oil
2 tsp margarine
1 T sugar
2 T milk
1 1/2 c warm water
2 tsps instant yeast (8 gram package)
Method:
  • In a glass measuring cup, add the yeast to the warm water and dissolve
  • Place flour, salt, oil, margarine, sugar, and milk into a large bowl
  • Mix together
  • Start adding the warm water and yeast to the flour mixture
  • Knead the mixture until the texture looks soft and well-mixed
  • Add water if the dough is too dry and flour if it’s too wet
  • Cover and let rise for at least 1 1/2 hours (I put it in my microwave)
  • Divide the dough into quarters
  • PInch off 12-15 pieces from each quarter and roll into balls
  • Place on parchment lined pans and flatten with your fingers
  • Let rise for about 15 minutes; flatten again
  • Cover with your choice of topping
  • Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, or longer, depending on how thin or thick the pizzas are, and how much topping each pizza is carrying
Manakeesh with zaatar topping:  add oil to zaatar until the mixture is spreadable. You don’t want it too thick or the topping will be dry. If it’s too runny, it will spill off of the dough
Manakeesh with sugar topping:  1/4 c sugar, 2 T sesame seeds, 1 T ground anise, and olive oil (makes enough for about 18 manakeesh). For these, you want the consistency to be a bit thicker, so you can taste the sugar and anise!
Mini pizzas and mini manakeesh
Mini pizzas and mini manakeesh
Enjoy!!
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Bruschetta With Tomatoes & Beans

Bruschetta With Tomatoes & Beans
Bruschetta With Tomatoes & Beans

Bruschetta technically refers to grilled bread that is brushed with olive oil, garlic, and salt…but, in North America, we refer to it as the combination of the bread topped with fresh chopped tomatoes and basil! It’s an appetizer that tastes best with in-season tomatoes and fresh basil.

Recently, I decided to add some beans to the chopped tomato mixture, because I wanted to add protein, and it was delicious. As part of a blogger collaboration on recipes featuring beans, I’m sharing my Bruschetta with Tomatoes & Beans. It’s TOOTally simple and fresh! And, our theme is #ispilledthebeans. Starting January 26th, you can look for that hashtag and my post on Instagram, where you’ll be able to see the other fun recipes my blogger friends are sharing. Follow this link to the 10 easy & delicious bean recipes. Continue reading

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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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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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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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Panzanella Salad – So Fresh and Filling!

Panzanella Salad
Panzanella Salad

Have you ever made panzanella, a tomato salad with croutons? Panzanella (a classic Tuscan salad from Italy) is one of my favorite salads because it’s made with fresh ingredients and includes bread built into it in the form of homemade croutons. Classic panzanella includes tomatoes, stale bread, olive oil, and vinegar.

Panzanella is definitely a salad that tastes best with the freshest ingredients, which means that this salad is a go-to in the late summer when tomatoes are in season. Having said that, I still like to make it all year and I like to make it when I have leftover baguette bread that has started to harden. Nothing tastes better than homemade croutons made with the best olive oil you can find.

Panzanella Salad
Panzanella Salad

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Delicious And Easy Vegan Chili

Vegan Chili
Vegan Chili

If you’re a fan of chili, then you will love this vegan version! It’s easy, delicious, and a new favorite of ours. This chili takes about 30 minutes to make, from start to finish. And, you probably have the ingredients on hand, especially if your kitchen is a vegan/plant-based kitchen.

The star of this vegan chili is the ground beef/meat substitute, like Yves Veggie Cuisine’s Ground Round. Because this plant-based meat substitute is already cooked, as are the canned beans, the cooking time for the chili is only 15 minutes after the vegetables are sauteed.

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Pomegranate Salsa Salad- So Fresh!

Pomegranate salsa
Pomegranate salsa

Do you love pomegranates? Are you ready for summer flavors in your meals? If you answered yes to both of these questions, then you will love this pomegranate salsa!

I remember eating pomegranates as a kid and being fascinated by their yummy flavor and the way the fruit had to be seeded. As an adult, I love using them in food dishes, drinks, and as healthy snacks – they add the perfect amount of tanginess and texture.

Pomegranates are one of the oldest known fruits and are an excellent source of vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber. They’re in season from the end of September through November. You can get them in the early winter months in North America because they are imported from warm climates.

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Fattoush Salad – A Favorite In Our House!

Fattoush Salad
Fattoush Salad

Fattoush Salad, a popular salad in the Middle East, is one of the tastiest and most requested salads in our house! As my kids have gotten older, their tastebuds have evolved and cooking for them is a pleasure.

Fattoush is an easy salad that is forgiving in both the quantity and variety of ingredients. If you went to ten people’s homes, you’d find ten versions of this salad! There are so many ways to make fattoush. People refer to it as a peasant salad in that people used whatever leftover vegetables they had on hand to make this dish. I’ve even seen it made using only purslane, tomatoes, and cucumbers, which is very different from the recipe I’m sharing below.

With Ramadan entering its second week, this salad is a staple found at many Iftar meals. Iftar is the evening meal that breaks the fast for Muslims around the world. I thought it would be a good time to share the recipe my mom has taught me for making fattoush.

Fattoush Salad
Fattoush Salad

There are a few things that distinguish the typical fattoush salad from a green salad. The simple green salad has lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Fattoush adds onions, sumac, green peppers, mint, parsley, pita chips, and a dressing of oil and lemon with the option of adding pomegranate molasses. My mom doesn’t use pomegranate molasses, but many restaurants use it for a tangy taste. Continue reading

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