Wawa-Wee Syrups (Review)

I was recently sent a bottle of Wawa-Wee Syrup from the owner, Nadia. As if the fun name isn’t enough to spark your curiosity, this is an organic fruit syrup free of high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors. This is something right up my alley! Clean, organic, and delicious. I was more than happy to try the product in a variety of applications. 

Of course, I had to start with breakfast. I made some fresh belgian waffles and drizzled some of the peach syrup over some fresh sliced summer peaches and blueberries.

wawa-wee syrup

It was divine! The syrup truly tastes like a summer peach and is surprisingly light. Its not overly sweet or heavy. The syrup is more fluid than most syrups, but any high quality syrup free of corn syrup and sugar as the main ingredient will be similar. The focus here is the flavor of the fruit puree. And it is perfectly executed. The taste is bursting with fresh peach and as a mom, I am happy to know its not from sugars and artificial flavors but from an actual peach. I love this product and its clean ingredient list.  I also add it to my plain greek yogurt, on top of frozen yogurt, or in my upside-down peach cake! I have two little ones who are quite picky eaters, and they absolutely loved this! I got them to eat greek yogurt every day this week, because a small tea spoon of this perfectly sweetens and balances the tart flavors of the yogurt. They are asking for it at dinner now too! 

waffles with peach syrup

Another wonderful thing about this syrup, aside from its true and delicious peach flavor, is its social purpose. Every bottle you buy helps support an orphan in need. Food with a social purpose is a new breed of super-foods. Super heroes, if you will. Thank you for being so health conscious and socially responsible, Wawa-wee. 

Chicken Pane (Egyptian breaded chicken)

chicken pane with onions

This dish is easily a favorite for all in our family, a comfort food that triggers nostalgia, and a delicious and easy recipe to include in every kitchen! The chicken is juicy and tender, with a crunchy and flavorful outer crust. 

Chicken pane is classic Egyptian recipe of breaded, fried chicken. The flavors are somehow juicier and zestier than what I have tried in the classic American fried chicken counterparts, although both are equally delicious in their own regard. This chicken is softer crunch, with a more flavorful bite. I also use this recipe on smaller strips of chicken tenderloins to make chicken strips or chicken nuggets for the kids, and this is a favorite for all! The name chicken pane, comes from the French word meaning bread crumbs. It turns out when Napolean came to Egypt, the French occupation left some flavorful influences. It is not uncommon to find French influence on Egyptian cuisine, language, and music. Because I love all things Parisian, I don’t mind throwing in this tidbit about my parents’ beautiful home country. 

chicken pane plated egg wash and salt

To make this dish, you need boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into two pieces, and filleted in half (sometimes into thirds, if it is especially thick). It is essential to marinate the chicken in onions, garlic, salt, and pepper overnight or for a couple of hours at the very least! This is what makes the chicken extra juicy and flavorful. 

marinate chicken onions

Once you have your marinated chicken breasts prepared, it is most efficient to set up of an assembly line of 3 bowls: one bowl of flour, one bowl of egg wash, and one bowl of bread crumbs. It is helpful to use a large, deep bowl for the breadcrumb mixture, so that you can easily toss and shake the chicken breast to coat it well. The final destination is a large pan with oil. I like to use a mediterranean oil blend I get at Costco that includes sunflower oil, grape seed oil, and olive oil. This oil combination definitely tastes better than vegetable oil and it won’t burn as easily, but any will work. If I am making smaller chicken strips or simply want a healthier dish, I lay these on a pan lined with foil and bake it. Check out this great demo for coating the chicken pane. 

breading chicken pane

The breads crumbs mixture is combined with some panko crumbs and a delicious combo of seasoning: salt, pepper, paprika, oregano, onion salt, and garlic powder. Sometimes I add minced parsley. 

The final step seems obvious: fry the chicken. However, I consider it mandatory to lay it on a plate lined with some paper towel as soon as you remove it from the pan. Maybe it’s the blot-the-oil-off-your-pizza high-schooler in me, but I find that this makes it lighter and tastier without the greasiness. But again, you could certainly bake this in the oven if you choose! Baking steers away from the traditional recipe and flavor, but it still works. I promise. Just brush the baking pan with some oil and turn the chicken over mid-way. This ensures a crispy golden crust. 

fried chicken pane chicken pane with salad

Chicken Pane
Serves 6
This is a juicy and flavorful breaded chicken with a crunchy and delicious crust.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
5 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
5 hr
Ingredients
  1. 3 lbs of chicken breast, filleted and cut in half
  2. 1.5 cups of bread crumbs
  3. 1.5 cups panko crumbs
  4. 4 eggs
  5. 1 tbsp water
  6. 1 large onion, sliced or blended
  7. 4 garlic cloves minced
  8. 2 tbsp salt
  9. 1 tsp pepper
  10. 1/2 tsp paprika
  11. 1/2 tsp oregano
  12. 1 tsp onion salt
  13. 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  14. 1/4 cup sunflower or grape seed oil (or any oil for frying)
  15. 1/2 cup flour
Instructions
  1. Cover the chicken breasts with the onion and minced garlic, 1 tbsp of salt, and 1 tsp of pepper and marinate over night.
  2. Crack the eggs in a bowl and whip with the water.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the breadcrumbs, panko crumbs, and remaining salt, pepper, and spices.
  4. Pour the flour in a third bowl.
  5. Add the oil to a pan and turn to medium-high heat. The oil does not need to fully cover the chicken, as you will be pan frying it on each side.
  6. Remove the pieces of chicken breast from the marination mixture one at a time and dip it into each bowl you have prepared. So first dust with the flour (shake off any excess flour), then dip into the egg wash so that it is coated on both sides, then dip into the bowl of breadcrumbs to coat completely. Shake off the excess and place it in the pan.
  7. Cook the chicken on one side in the pan until golden, and then flip it. This takes about 2-3 minutes per side. Repeat for each piece of chicken, and add more oil if necessary.
  8. Remove the chicken after it is golden and place onto a plate lined with paper towel.
  9. Serve garnished with red onions, parsley, or other vegetables you prefer.
Notes
  1. You may bake the chicken in the oven at 375 degree F. Simply place the chicken on a pan brushed with oil and flip half way through the cook time. Cook 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness and size of the chicken.
Adapted from Mom
Adapted from Mom
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Peanut Butter Energy Bites

Peanut butter energy bites are a delicious and healthy snack packed with protein and healthy whole grains and seeds. This treat is 100% nut free because my dear husband has a tree-nut allergy. If you are wondering about the peanut butter, well it is a common misconception that they are nuts. Peanuts are a legume, a seed that grows underground. So my highly allergic-to-nuts husband often enjoys peanuts and peanut butter to most observers’ surprise. These peanut butter bites are deliciously sweetened with honey and dates, as well as chocolate chips and dried cranberries or cherries. Similar to my date truffles, these peanut butter bites are a healthy source of energy and protein, so they make a great snack in Ramadan when Muslims fast for long hours, or between meals in a very busy schedule. The recipe is a quick and easy no bake one that you could complete in under 15 minutes.

peanut butter balls

medjool dates

My kids always make these with me. In fact, my inspiration behind these come from my own childhood. Back in the 1980s when television was full of great, wholesome shows like Mr. Rogers, Fredd Penner, and Mr. Dress Up, we learned how to make a delicious and easy treat called “peanut butter balls” from Mr. Rogers. I don’t recall exactly what was in it, but it involved peanut butter, honey, and raisins to some extent. So this recipe is credited to Mr. Rogers, and it is one that conjures up nostalgic childhood memories for me. I further enhance the recipe with the use of dates, a superfood. Dates have numerous minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, to name a few. Their additional nutritional benefits include being a heart healthy, fiber rich fruit, and a source of healthy sugars or carbs to fuel you up. The natural sweetness of the date imparts a perfect caramel flavor to this recipe. I soak the pitted dates in hot water and smash (or blend) them into a paste to incorporate into the peanut butter. A touch of honey also gets whipped into the peanut butter until I have a nicely sweetened creamy base.

spoon of dripping honey

spoon of honey

I add some crunch with pumpkin and sunflower seeds, a sweet and tart bite with the cranberries and cherries, and some heart healthy fiber with oats. Additional flavors such as chocolate chips are optional, and you can also experiment with alternative additives like coconut, white chocolate, carob chips, raisins, dried blueberries, sesame seeds, or tree nuts.

oats, pumpkin seeds, peanut butter

 

 

I let my kids roll these into balls, because this is so fun for them! Besides, this was the way we learned to make peanut butter balls from Mr. Rogers. When I make these for friends or to store as a snack for a few weeks, I prefer to lay it into a rectangular pan and then cut them into bars. Either way, they are deliciously scrumptious! Here is a treat you don’t need to feel guilty about!

child rolling balls

peanut butter bars

peanut butter bars

peanut butter bar

Peanut butter bites
A healthy and delicious energy treat that is so easy to make!
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 3/4 cups peanut butter
  2. 1/2 cup raw honey
  3. 1 1/4 cups quick oats
  4. 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds (peeled)
  5. 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
  6. 1/2 cup of Medjool dates, pitted and soaked in hot water then blended or mashed
  7. 1/2 c chocolate chips
  8. 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix the peanut butter, honey, and dates together. Add all other ingredients and stir well.
  2. Roll into balls or spread in a pyrex pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes and serve. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Adapted from Mr. Rogers
Adapted from Mr. Rogers
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Pretend play snow!

play snow

Over winter break, I had the pleasure of being stuck at home with my two lovely girls, ages 2 and 5. I had to come up with fun activities daily and the games and toys became redundant quickly. First I considered those cool magic sand or play dough activities I see so often on Pinterest, but I really did not want to worry about that HUGE mess. Then I saw this awesome sensory play involving pretend snow that would actually help clean my tables and floors! So we went ahead and made some pretend snow, of course.

play snow hands

Mixing the shaving cream and baking soda!

Mixing the shaving cream and baking soda!

 

 

All you need is baking soda and shaving cream. I set the girls at their plastic play table, away from the rug and let them mix baking soda and shaving cream in a plastic bin with their hands. We didn’t even measure; we just added shaving cream to the baking soda until it had that fluffy, sticky texture of packing snow.  The kids LOVED it! And I loved how it cleaned their tables! I even enjoyed mopping up the mess off the floor too, because it was cleaning my floors! A win-win!

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Each girl had her own bin, to prevent spillage.

Each girl had her own bin, to prevent spillage.

Making snowballs!

Making snowballs!

I would say we used about 1 cup of baking soda and half a can of the cheap, white Barbasol shaving cream. I have a huge bag of baking soda I bought from Costco, which expired for cooking purposes. So naturally it is the ideal choice for play activities. Check out the economy bag at Costco next time you are there!

winter2015sugarandgarlic2016-15

“Little Monkey” Baby Shower

What a beautiful occasion to celebrate! My sweet sister in law and long time BFF is having a baby boy, and we were so excited to finally prepare for a boy-themed shower (the last 4 babies have all been little princesses!). To go along with the jungle themed nursery, we incorporated the monkeys and the color scheme was blue and green. With a gorgeously delicious candy buffet, we set the scene with pops of vibrant blue and green and accents of brown. All this beautiful candy was from a fresh and Kosher candy distributor, Ohnuts.com. 

blue and green dessert table 2014-12-20sugarandgarlic2014-3 blue and green candy table blue and green candy table cake pops

 

Since we spent a lot on the candy, we saved on the cake pops. We were smart and got the delicious cake pops from Starbucks and spray painted the white ones with food grade spray paint from Wilton’s to match our color scheme. Everyone just loved the cake pops, and at a fraction of the cost of custom bakeries, we loved them too!

cake pops

We used the seasonal peppermint chocolate cake pops from Starbucks’ La Boulange bakery and painted them blue with food paint. These tasted AWESOME.

 

I got my hands on some of the best macarons you will taste from Pierrot Gourmet at the The Peninsula Hotel in Chicago and had them make some custom colors for me (just give them a week’s notice) in their signature flavors of chocolate coconut (the blue ones),  mint chocolate (the green), and salted caramel (the gold). They did mess up my order unfortunately, and it was too bad because I was so excited to bring what I consider to be the best macarons I have ever tasted to my Michigan friends and family. They didn’t make them in mint chocolate (it was only peppermint with a plain buttercream filling), nor did they do chocolate coconut (it was also a plain buttercream filling). Additionally, the coconut shells were all hollow! So I am not sure I would go with Pierrot Gourmet again for a large party event. But they were beautiful, and these do taste amazing when you buy them fresh at the shop. Just look at these beauties.

blue macarons blue and green macarons

To go along with our candy buffet, we requested the bakery to assemble half of our macarons on lollipop sticks. How cute do these look presented in a tray of green jelly beans!? Note that the macarons with a buttercream filling did not hold up well, and slid right through the stick. If the macarons have a thicker filling like ganache or caramel, it will hold perfectly. The gold macarons have a thick caramel filling and help up nicely the entire time.

macaron pops green macaron pops

 

One of the most stunning displays at this amazing shower was this fruit display made from tropical fruits. The mother-to-be’s BFF is a talented culinary artist and mastered this feat when I (jokingly) suggested we include this glorious fruit display! They needed to use a metal rod to slide through the pineapples, and a heavily weighted container as the base to keep this from toppling over. The monkeys were made with a papaya as the body, oranges for the head, lemons and slices for the mouth and ears, and black grapes for the eyes. You will need several metal or bamboo skewers for this design; as you can imagine, the fruit is heavy. 

tropical fruit display

Papayas, oranges, kiwis, pineapples, and bananas assembled into this adorable display!

jungle fruit display

 

Oh yes, this is the infamous banana pudding from Magnolia’s bakery. Perfect for our monkeys who love bananas, and a HUGE hit with everyone! Have you tried this stuff yet?

Magnolias banana pudding banana pudding

Our centerpieces were a simple edible pineapple, surrounded by bananas, and some topped with plush monkeys. My adorable mother-in law set these up! The water bottles were personalized with a monkey-themed label from Etsy!

pineapple centerpiece

The room was filled with vines and hanging plush and paper monkeys, both purchased from Amazon.

jungle baby shower jungle baby shower monkey baby shower

Dessert was decadent, with an adorable and delicious chocolate and banana-cream tiered cake topped with a baby monkey. I described the design and the baker and cake designers at Paradise Cakes of West Bloomfield, MI executed beautifully! That’s a rice krispie treat monkey covered with fondant!

monkey cake baby monkey cake

And how about these adorable and easy DIY cupcakes made by my other sister in law. She baked cupcakes, frosted on green leaves and used these perfect little monkey toppers, also from Amazon! 

monkey cupcakes monkey cupcake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The shower event and baby arrival are both in the winter, so we thought a moisturizing coconut or mango lip balm from Burt’s Bees wrapped in a beautiful gold box and blue ribbon would make for the perfect and functional party favor!

lip balm favors

 

I made a diaper cake and wrapped the tiers in my favorite soft blue receiving blankets by SwaddleDesigns (these are a generous size and there is a step-by-step drawing of how to swaddle attached right on the tag) and wrapped the “cake” with blue ribbon. A dainty pair of wing-tipped infant shoes and a cuddly monkey hugging the side tied the diaper cake into our theme nicely. We also gave baby’s nursery library a head start with a collection of some classic favorite monkey themed books such as Caps for Sale,  Five Little MonkeysIf I were a Monkey, an adorable Little Monkey finger puppet book, and Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb. Children’s books always make for nice functional decor and double as a gift for baby!

monkey diaper cake monkey diaper cake diaper cake

 

Last but not least, we had an impressive and delicious spread of food catered from La Saj, located in Sterling Heights, Mi. This food was DELICIOUS. The stuffed grape leaves, the lentils, the chicken, and the tabbouli were all to die for. I am drooling as I think about it!

2014-12-20sugarandgarlic2014-32 2014-12-20sugarandgarlic2014-33 2014-12-20sugarandgarlic2014-35 2014-12-20sugarandgarlic2014-36 2014-12-20sugarandgarlic2014-38 2014-12-20sugarandgarlic2014-39 chicken kafta stuffed grapeleaves lentils from La Saj

Apple Cranberry Pecan Pie

Who doesn’t love apple pie?!

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The autumnal season beckons you to its scent, to bite into a warm, crusty, juicy slice with a scoop of ice cream, and to the gorgeous visions of pies to your heart’s content. Add some juicy red cranberries and crunchy pecans to the sweet caramel and flaky warm crust and you are simply… biting. into. heaven! 

Best of all this pie is SO darn easy and fast to make yet everyone will think you slaved over it all day!

Especially if you get your hands on these adorable pie crust cutters from Crate and Barrel and decorate it like a pro! But seriously, my 4 year old helped me cut out these leaves and laid them on with me. It’s that easy! Not mention how fun it is to include your children in this sensory activity!
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You simply get your favorite ready made double pie crust ( I get mine from Trader Joes because Pillsbury uses pig lard unfortunately). Lay one pie crust in your pan, throw in all your sliced apples, a handful of cranberries, and a handful of pecans and you are basically done!
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The top crust could be made with a lattice work of strips, a pattern of leaves cut from the crust, or simply laying the second crust over the apples, with some ovals cut out. Be sure to crimp the edges of your pie to prevent overspills of the liquid gold you will soon add! 
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It’s this ooey, gooey, caramel sauce that does all the work that makes you look like a culinary genius! 4 simple ingredients in the pot come together for this perfection.
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After you lay your second crust over the apples and cranberries, just pour the sauce all over and bake! Yum. Yum.
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Easy as pie.
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Apple Cranberry Pecan Pie
A delicious spin off the classic apple pie, that is juicy, sweet, and bursting with autumn!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 double pie crust
  2. 7-8 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/16th slices
  3. 1/4 c fresh cranberries, washed
  4. 1/4 c pecans
  5. 1/4 c flour
  6. 3/4 c brown sugar
  7. 1/4 c white sugar
  8. 2 tbsp water
  9. 1/2 c unsalted butter
  10. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  11. butte pecan or vanilla ice cream to serve (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Lay one pie crust into a 9 inch pie pan and allow the excess dough to overhang the sides and then press up the excess to form a "wall" so that you can crimp it later.
  3. Lay the apple slices, cranberries, and pecans inside the bottom pie crust, so that it is slightly mounding.
  4. Take the second pie crust, lay it onto a floured surface, and slice into long strips. Lay the strips inter-changeably to create a lattice work of pie strips.
  5. Crimp the sides of the pie crust by taking the overhang and pressing it upward into a wall. Then, use your index finger and thumb to shape it into crimps by "pinching" the dough. See the referenced YouYube video to see how to do this. Crimping the pie is necessary in this recipe as the sauce will spill overboard if you do not.
  6. If you have the pie crust leaf cutters, cut some shapes out and either lay them around the perimeter, sporadically over the pie top, or create a repetitive pattern with the leaves instead of a lattice!
  7. Make the sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir well to create a béchamel paste. Add the sugar, water, and cinnamon. Boil on medium for 2 minutes and remove from heat.
  8. Pour the sauce all over the top of the pie, being careful not to let it flow over the sides. Try to pour the sauce so that it filters down into the apples, and not only on top of the pie crust.
  9. Lay the pie pan over a larger pan to catch any drippings as this bakes (to avoid burning sugar in your oven!).
  10. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce to 350 and bake for 25-30 more minutes.
  11. Serve with butter pecan or vanilla ice cream and enjoy!
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

 

Veggie Tuna Salad

This is a refreshing and filling veggie tuna salad that you can eat on its own right out of the bowl, or you can wrap it into a flat bread for a quick and easy sandwich, or melt some provolone cheese over it to make a warm and toasty tuna melt! Yum!

tuna saladThis tuna salad is so easy to make with fresh ingredients and lots of flavor. We load up on veggies that give this a nice crunch. The recipe is an inspiration based on a green bean tuna salad recipe written by the fabulous Giada de Laurentiss and made for me by a more fabulous friend:) I made this at home with some of my fresh and favorite veggies: red bell peppers, green beans, asparagus, tomatoes, and parsley . I omitted red potatoes to reduce the carbs and cooking steps, used fresh crunchy green beans, and added some kick with chopped fennel instead of celery. This was awesome.

Oh and I use plenty of fresh squeezed lemons, almost 1 whole lemon per can of tuna. In my book, the more lemon the better. But it is possible to add too much lemon so don’t get carried away!

I use “Wild Planet” tuna, which is a brand I love because it is sustainably caught (pole and troll), non GMO, no liquids or fillers are added (as is with the common Chicken of the Sea and other major brands), and it is stored in BPA free cans. There are also many other wonderful healthful varieties stored in olive oil. You want to avoid the kinds stored in water, because many of the heart healthy omega 3 fats are lost and nutrients are not retained as well (neither is the taste actually). I use about 5 6 oz cans in the recipe which is enough to feed at least 5 adults; the volume is tripled with all the fresh chopped vegetable ingredients we add!

chopped veggies

parsley, tomatoes, scallions, and garlic

Tuna salad veggies; in this variation I included chopped asparagus!

Tuna salad veggies; in this variation I included chopped asparagus!

If you let your kids dice and stir this salad with you, they are always more likely to eat what they make. They always love the bright colors in the salad too.

green bean tuna salad

red bell pepper

red bell pepper and diced fennel

tomatoes and garlic

layers of flavor with tomatoes and garlic

Veggie Tuna Salad
A fresh and delicous tuna salad that is heart healthy and easy to make in no time!
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 4-5 6 oz cans of tuna, packed in olive oil
  2. 2 red bell peppers, diced
  3. 1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  4. 1/2 cup fresh fennel, diced
  5. 1 cup of fresh green beans, trimmed and chopped into 2 inch pieces
  6. 1 cup tomatoes, diced
For the dressing
  1. 3/4-1 c fresh squeezed lemon juice, to taste
  2. 1 tsp salt
  3. 1/4 tsp black pepper
  4. 1/2 tsp cumin
  5. 1/2 c olive oil
  6. 2 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
Instructions
  1. Toss all the chopped ingredients with the tuna in a large bowl.
  2. Stir the dressing together and pour all over the tuna salad.
  3. Serve in wraps, on toast, on crackers, or eat it as it is as a healthy and filling salad!
Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Ramadan and Eid Sugar Cookies

 
These addictive sugar cookies are delectably soft and have notes of coconut and vanilla. They are the perfect dough to work with when cutting out shapes. The cookies are perfectly soft and chewy, yet the dough is nicely firm when rolling it out to cut into shapes. 

Ramadan cookies

ramadan cookie cutter

We are all about making Eid and Ramadan as fun as can be. These are beautiful and joyous occasions, and Ramadan is the holiest month of the year for Muslims. To make this time of year memorable and special for my family, I indulge in Ramadan and Eid themed crafts, activities, service projects, cooking, and baking. Ramadan and Eid cookies are a must on our list!

Ramadan and Eid Sugar cookies

Ramadan and Eid cookies

Sugar cookies shaped as crescents, masjids, lanterns and stars.

 The traditional petit four Eid cookies and “maamool” that we usually make are a more labor intensive, persnickety cookie so I had to come up with a more kid friendly, hands on alternative. What better option than a scrumptious sugar cookie, that the kids can help roll out and cut into their favorite shapes! Of course, making your own sugar icing, letting little ones stir up the colors, and decorate the cookies is the the best part. We had a blast making these and I didn’t have to stress out about the process or careful design as I do with my petit fours!

I tried several sugar cookie recipes, and this modified version from allrecipes.com was fantastic. I added some light brown sugar to make it a softer, gooey-er cookie. I also incorporated some coconut flour (1 cup out of the 5) and vanilla extract for some hints of flavor. You could omit the coconut flour and just use regular, or substitute some almond flour instead of the coconut. These offer great flavor variation and a softer texture.

When refrigerated properly, the cookie dough rolls out very nicely, and allows you to get a nice clean cut with the cookie shapes.2014-07-17sugarandgarlic2014-2 2014-07-19sugarandgarlic2014-7 Ramadan cookies

Islamic cookie cutter

These deliciously scrumptious cookies start and end with frosting! I start by whipping a creamy mixture of brown sugar, white sugar, and butter, which is essentially a creamy  brown sugar frosting. For the dough, you need to work with softened butter, not melted or cold butter. So go ahead and take out the butter and set it out on your counter RIGHT NOW (because you really want to make these!) Then after these cookies are baked and cooled, we top them with an EASY and gorgeous home-made icing with bold hues of blue, yellow, and green. 

Once you have mixed the dough, it will be soft and creamy, so it is essential to refrigerate the dough for AT LEAST two hours if you want to easily cut out your shapes and have clean lines. Otherwise, the dough is too soft and too sticky, and your cut cookies my crumble or fall apart when transferring and shaping. So plan ahead and leave enough time to cool the dough. I also stick some of the dough into the freezer after working with it for about 20 minutes if I need to take a break or if the dough starts warming up again and getting too floppy. To make my gorgeous Ramadan themed shapes, I found these fantastic cookie cutters on Amazon.com, a world of almost any product you can imagine. These specific cookie cutters seem to be out of stock unfortunately, but there are these wonderful linzer cookie cutters as well as these awesome stencils you could use to spray or sprinkle on beautiful designs to your cookie shapes. I just love it (Amazon that is), because I always find what I need and it ships immediately! The cookie cutters are great too; I have used and washed them several times and they hold up great. Just don’t put them in the dishwasher!

roll out the dough

Roll the dough out onto a floured surface.

refrigerated dough

The icing used here is SUPER easy. No need to buy any. I don’t use any fancy meringue powder or spend energy whipping and frothing raw egg whites. This is purely sugar melted into a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a couple of spoons of milk (you can also use water). It hardens very nicely and is very easy to work with. I also add a spoon of corn syrup to give the icing a nice shiny gloss. I divide the icing into several bowls, depending on how many colors I want to use. To decorate properly, I first make a thicker icing to hold in the interior thinner icing. This makes it easier to fill your cookie with a smooth, clean layer of colorful design. Once all the cookies are edged, you can “flood” the cookie with thinner icing by adding another spoon of milk to the mix and stirring until incorporated. 

how to make icing

All you need is: powdered sugar, vanilla extract, milk, and food coloring. Use plastic sandwich bags and a cup to help pipe out the icing.

I pipe the icing with a plastic sandwich bag (any type will do), which I fill by draping it over a cup, with the corner (the piping tip) pointing downward in the cup. Once the bag is filled with icing, I snip off a half centimeter tip from the corner to start making my edge design. I sometimes use simple sandwich ziploc bags, but these piping bags by Wilton are much better because of their conical shape. 

how to make icing

piping icing

Use a plastic sandwich bag and insert it into a cup, with the corner of the bag pointing down, to facilitate filling with icing or frosting.

piping icing

how to ice a sugar cookie

First draw in the edges with thicker icing, made with less milk.

By the time you finish icing all the edges with the thicker icing, the edges should be hardened and you can begin to “flood” the inside of the cookie with a slightly thinner icing by adding 1 more tablespoon of milk to the mixture. Even if the icing hardened in the bowl, dont worry it will dissolve and mix again once you stir it up. 

how to ice a sugar cookie

Then “flood” the cookie with a slightly thinner icing after the edges have hardened.

Ramadan and Eid cookies

You may also want to use some colorful non-pareils sprinkles to let the kids sprinkle (or pour) some over the cookies when the icing is still soft. This is the funnest (and messiest) part afterall! Nothing a vacuum or broom can’t fix; so enjoy the moment!

icing and sprinkles Ramadan and Eid cookies 2014-07-20sugarandgarlic2014-7

Ramadan and Eid Sugar Cookies
Yields 24
A delicious buttery sugar cookie that makes it easy and fun to cut out the perfect shapes!
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For the cookie
  1. 1 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
  2. 1 c white sugar
  3. 1 light brown sugar
  4. 4 eggs
  5. 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  6. 4 c all purpose flour
  7. 1 c coconut flour, or almond flour
  8. 2 tsp baking powder
  9. 1/2 tsp salt
For the icing
  1. 2 c powdered sugar
  2. 3 tbsp milk + 1 tbsp milk to thin it later in process
  3. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  4. 1-2 tbsp of corn syrup
  5. food coloring (gel or powder) **
For the cookie
  1. Whip the sugars and butter together until creamy.
  2. Add the eggs and vanilla extract.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Then gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture.
  4. Roll the dough into a ball, cover completely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  5. Remove the dough from the fridge (preheat the oven to 350 degrees) and knead it gently to soften it slightly. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface, with a floured rolling pin. Roll the dough out to be 1 inch thick, or 1/2 inch for thinner cookies.
  6. Cut the shapes as desired, and lay onto an ungreased baking sheet*.
  7. Cover the cut out cookies on the baking sheet with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20- 30 minutes. This will ensure the cookies hold their shape while baking, instead of spreading out.
  8. Bake for 6-8 minutes. I like to remove when still soft as the cookie will harden after cooling.
  9. Allow to cool completely for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
For the icing
  1. If you plan to fill most cookies completely with icing, double this recipe 😉
  2. Stir the 3 tbsp of milk and vanilla together.
  3. Sift the powdered sugar and slowly whisk it into the milk using a mixer set on low. If stirring by hand, make SURE to sift the sugar first to avoid any lumps!
  4. Once all the sugar is stirred into the milk into a creamy consistency, add the corn syrup.
  5. Divide the icing into 2-3 bowls to make different colors and add the food coloring.
  6. Lay out the cookies on a large work surface, over parchment paper or foil. Pipe the edges with the thicker icing first. Once the edges have dried, which will happen while you finish icing all the other cookies, you can begin to fill the interior of the cookie with thinner icing. Thin the remaining icing with another spoon of milk so that is slightly more viscous. Be careful not to make it too thin, as this will be difficult to work with and will take a very long time to dry and harden!
  7. Allow the cookies to dry overnight or 12 hours before stacking on top of each other.
Notes
  1. * the baking sheet used in the test recipes was a large baking sheet light in color (not dark).
  2. * If using gel food coloring, be careful and only add a tiny drop at a time! Some colors are VERY saturated and will completely change the color of the icing if you put too much!
Adapted from Allrecipes.com
Adapted from Allrecipes.com
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Garden Vegetable Linguine

This delicious linguine pasta dish features spinach, pea shoots, onion, and garlic, with some hearty portabella mushrooms and sweet red bell peppers. 

vegetable pasta

Pasta is such an essential go-to dish to create a flavorful and easy meal with a variety of vegetables and fresh ingredients. I love me a good farm-to- table meal; and these fresh chopped veggies from the farmer’s market are the perfect companions to pasta linguine. Even better, this a fast and easy quick meal, and even the busiest of us can whip up this gourmet dinner in no time!

sliced mushrooms and onions

Pasta has been getting the cold shoulder a lot lately with the ever increasing popularity of gluten free and low carb diets. Even I personally have been limiting my carbs lately and trying to eat a lot more whole and raw foods, but there will ALWAYS be a place for pasta in my life. The key is to utilize it as a vehicle for the fabulous fresh vegetables and sauces you create. My kids love to eat pasta, and I love to give it to them loaded with nutritious vegetables and ingredients.

Pasta is also an excellent dish when you need a carb loaded meal to give a boost of energy such as at the end of a long Ramadan day of fasting!

I love this recipe because it is fast, fresh, and easy. No sooner than you finish reading this post, you can whip up this quick gourmet meal.

sautee mushrooms in garlic oil

Sautee the mushrooms and peppers in the garlic oil.

add spinach and pea shoots

Add the spinach and pea shoots at the very end.

I simply use inspiration from the fresh produce available. At the farmer’s market I picked up some pea shoots for the first time (at the suggestion of my friend), fresh spinach leaves, portabella mushrooms, red bell peppers and tomatoes.  I made a quick marinara sauce with all the tomatoes I got, then used the remainder of the vegetables to make a delicious rainbow of textures and flavor. I always start by sautéing some onions or garlic, in some olive oil or in this case both. Then add in the mushrooms and peppers until they start to become tender, and add the leafy spinach and pea shoots at the end so that they do not get too soft and release water. I toss this fabulous mixture with the pasta and drizzle my delicious homemade marinara over it, and we have a gorgeous and colorful meal in no time!

toss in linguine

Like a classic Italian chef, toss the linguine in all the delicious ingredients.

Garnish with fresh basil or parsley. Bon a petit! 

 

 

garden vegetable pasta

Garden Vegetable Linguine
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Prep Time
8 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
13 min
Prep Time
8 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
13 min
Ingredients
  1. 6-8 portabella mushrooms (2 cups sliced)
  2. 1 cup chopped fresh spinach
  3. 1/2 cup pea shoots, parsley, or scallions (optional)
  4. 1 red bell pepper, diced
  5. 1/2 cup marinara sauce or sliced tomatoes
  6. 1/2 onion, sliced
  7. 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  8. 2 tbsp olive oil
  9. 1 lb linguine pasta
  10. salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp salt)
Instructions
  1. Boil the linguine pasta in water with olive oil until al dente (about 8 minutes), and drain.
  2. While the pasta boils, slice the mushrooms, pepper, onion, and garlic. The spinach only need a rough chop; it will decrease in size considerably over the heat.
  3. Sautee the onion and garlic slices in the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and red pepper and toss for about 1 minute. If using fresh tomato slices instead of marinara, add the tomato slices. Add the spinach and pea shoots and toss gently. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Remove from heat and immediately toss in the linguine pasta. If using the marinara sauce, toss in the sauce at this point. Serve hot.
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Avocado Pesto Pasta Salad

I love pesto. And I love avocados. This dish combines these two loves into a flavorful and fresh pasta salad! 

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I’m a proponent of creative cooking, and using ingredients you have on hand to create delicious meals. Its a survival skill that comes in handy when you are a busy mom just trying to feed hungry mouths. My daughter’s school was having a family luncheon pot luck, and I had signed up for some type of pasta salad. I am known to try new recipes for the first time on large groups. Brave I know, but it hasn’t back-fired so far. I knew I wanted to make pesto, but I never make it the traditional way (you may have read in my other posts about my husband’s deathly nut allergy). So I don’t use nuts and I usually improvise.  So here I had tons of parsley, avocados, and perfectly juicy and plump cherry tomatoes. 

Oh that avocado can whip into a beautiful green “butter” for my pasta salad! Who needs nuts? (omega-3 fats, CHECK)

Lulu do you want to pick some parsley leaves from the garden!?

My daughter nods enthusiastically.

And so it was created: avocado- pesto pasta salad. No nuts, but plenty of kick from garlic and earthy parsley, the creaminess of the avocado, and a tad of lemon juice and we were set for a delicious meal in no time! We used bow tie pasta because, well, they are my daughter’s favorite. What 3 year old girl wouldn’t love to eat bow ties?! Anything to make eating appealing and fun for kids, right?

Lemon or lime juice is absolutely necessary here to keep the avocado’s vibrant green color. Some salt, pepper, and crushed garlic season the “pesto” perfectly, and the fresh parsley leaves give this sauce the perfect texture and earthiness to replace the traditional basil. At the end I add sliced cherry tomatoes and I sprinkle on some freshly grated parmesan cheese. YUM. 

 

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This thick, creamy sauce is a simple combination of blended avocados, lemon juice, salt, pepper, crushed garlic, olive oil, and parsley.

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Avocado-Pesto Pasta Salad
A deliciously creamy and zesty pesto variation makes this the perfectly refreshing dish to serve to your family or friends!
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
8 min
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
8 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 lb pasta (bowties, penne, fusili)
  2. 2 ripe avocados
  3. 1 lemon or lime, juiced
  4. salt and pepper to taste (about 1 tsp)
  5. 3 cloves of garlic
  6. 1 tbsp olive oil
  7. 1 bunch of parsley (about 1/2 cup chopped)
  8. 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  9. 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta in boiling water with some olive oil, according to directions, until "al dente"(about 8 minutes). Drain and set aside to cool in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Slice the avocado open, remove the pit and scoop out the flesh. Put it into a food processor or blender. Add the salt, pepper, lemon juice, garlic cloves, parsley, and olive oil. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  3. Pour the sauce over the cooled pasta. Add the cherry tomatoes and toss in the grated cheese.
  4. Place in a serving dish, and enjoy!
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/