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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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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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.

Chocolate Bark Continue reading

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Vegan Chocolate Fudge – Made With Dates!!

Vegan Chocolate Fudge Made With Dates
Vegan Chocolate Fudge Made With Dates

My first taste of fudge was when I moved to North Carolina to attend boarding school, in my sophomore year of high school. It was then that I fell in love with this North American dessert, at first bite!

I have a major sweet tooth, and it’s satisfied by super sweet North American and Middle Eastern desserts like: Texas Pecan Fudge Pie a la mode (specifically from House of Pies in Houston), pralines, fudge, cookie dough, Hello Dollies, knafeh, baklava, nammoura, and super sweet meghli. The last four are Middle Eastern and I make most of them at home when I can. Look for the meghli recipe in the next few weeks.

But…I digress. These days, fudge comes in many forms and is used to describe many cooked as well as no-bake desserts. There are variations that include melting chocolate and adding a can of condensed milk. There are variations that include tahini and coconut oil, like this recipe that I have shared in the past. And, there are recipes that are made with dates as a base, like the one I’m sharing today. Continue reading

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Perfect Fluffy Pancakes

Perfect Fluffy Pancakes
Perfect Fluffy Pancakes

I’ve been making pancakes for my oldest daughter for years now, and I’ve finally perfected the recipe for fluffy pancakes!

Given that it’s Mardi Gras tomorrow, I thought I would share my recipe with you.

The key to fluffy pancakes is not to over-mix the batter. It’s okay to have some lumps. They will eventually settle and won’t show up in the cooked pancakes. Over-mixing the flour activates the gluten, which is good for some applications, like bread, but not for pancakes because we don’t want dense pancakes! All you have to do is mix the ingredients until combined, about 15-20 stirs around the mixing bowl.

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7 Of My Favorite Christmas Cookies – With Links To Recipes!

Christmas Cookies
Christmas Cookies

I love to bake for Christmas! It’s that time of year when I spend a few days in a row baking my holiday goodies. There are some recipes that are always on the list, but each year I add a couple of new ones. With Christmas one week away, I thought I’d share the cookies I made this year, with tips and links to the recipes. Recipes are listed, clockwise, starting with the gingerbread men. Continue reading

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3 Easy Christmas Treats To Make With The Kids

 

3 Easy Christmas Desserts
3 Easy Christmas Desserts

(This post is sponsored by Kitchen Stuff Plus. As always, all opinions are my own.)

It’s the holiday season, which means lots of festive decorations, tableware, and food! Adults and kids love the special desserts that come with Christmas, and it’s even more fun when they’re simple to make and decorate. The important part is being together, so here are three easy-to-make suggestions for home or school: gifts made with brownie squares, puffed rice cereal wreaths, and a tree made out of cupcakes. You can make the base of the treats in advance and save the decorating for the kids. The best part is that it’s all edible!

Brownie Gifts

Brownie Gifts
Brownie Gifts

For these palm-sized brownie gifts, you will need: a brownie pan, packaged brownie mix and icing, mini candy canes, and holiday sprinkles of your choice.

To make these brownie gifts into perfect squares, use a tray like this one, from Kitchen Stuff Plus. This brownie pan is perfect because many people like the edge pieces and, with this pan, everyone gets one! I like the stability and the clean edges of these perfect squares. Continue reading

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