20 3 / 2013

There are two types of people in the world: those who choose to be happy, and those who choose to be unhappy. Contrary to popular belief, happiness doesn’t come from fame, fortune, other people, or material possessions. Rather, it comes from within. The richest person in the world could be miserable while a homeless person could be right outside, smiling and content with their life. Happy people are happy because they make themselves happy. They maintain a positive outlook on life and remain at peace with themselves.

The question is: how do they do that?

It’s quite simple. Happy people have good habits that enhance their lives. They do things differently. Ask any happy person, and they will tell you that they …

1. Don’t hold grudges.

Happy people understand that it’s better to forgive and forget than to let their negative feelings crowd out their positive feelings. Holding a grudge has a lot of detrimental effects on your wellbeing, including increased depression, anxiety, and stress. Why let anyone who has wronged you have power over you? If you let go of all your grudges, you’ll gain a clear conscience and enough energy to enjoy the good things in life.

2. Treat everyone with kindness.

Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that being kind makes you happier? Every time you perform a selfless act, your brain produces serotonin, a hormone that eases tension and lifts your spirits. Not only that, but treating people with love, dignity, and respect also allows you to build stronger relationships.

3. See problems as challenges.

The word “problem” is never part of a happy person’s vocabulary. A problem is viewed as a drawback, a struggle, or an unstable situation while a challenge is viewed as something positive like an opportunity, a task, or a dare. Whenever you face an obstacle, try looking at it as a challenge.

4. Express gratitude for what they already have.

There’s a popular saying that goes something like this: “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.” You will have a deeper sense of contentment if you count your blessings instead of yearning for what you don’t have.

5. Dream big.

People who get into the habit of dreaming big are more likely to accomplish their goals than those who don’t. If you dare to dream big, your mind will put itself in a focused and positive state.

6. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Happy people ask themselves, “Will this problem matter a year from now?” They understand that life’s too short to get worked up over trivial situations. Letting things roll off your back will definitely put you at ease to enjoy the more important things in life.

7. Speak well of others.

Being nice feels better than being mean. As fun as gossiping is, it usually leaves you feeling guilty and resentful. Saying nice things about other people encourages you to think positive, non-judgmental thoughts.

8. Never make excuses.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Happy people don’t make excuses or blame others for their own failures in life. Instead, they own up to their mistakes and, by doing so, they proactively try to change for the better.

9. Get absorbed into the present.

Happy people don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. They savor the present. They let themselves get immersed in whatever they’re doing at the moment. Stop and smell the roses.

10. Wake up at the same time every morning.

Have you noticed that a lot of successful people tend to be early risers? Waking up at the same time every morning stabilizes your circadian rhythm, increases productivity, and puts you in a calm and centered state.

11. Avoid social comparison.

Everyone works at his own pace, so why compare yourself to others? If you think you’re better than someone else, you gain an unhealthy sense of superiority. If you think someone else is better than you, you end up feeling bad about yourself. You’ll be happier if you focus on your own progress and praise others on theirs.

12. Choose friends wisely.

Misery loves company. That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with optimistic people who will encourage you to achieve your goals. The more positive energy you have around you, the better you will feel about yourself.

13. Never seek approval from others.

Happy people don’t care what others think of them. They follow their own hearts without letting naysayers discourage them. They understand that it’s impossible to please everyone. Listen to what people have to say, but never seek anyone’s approval but your own.

14. Take the time to listen.

Talk less; listen more. Listening keeps your mind open to others’ wisdoms and outlooks on the world. The more intensely you listen, the quieter your mind gets, and the more content you feel.

15. Nurture social relationships.

A lonely person is a miserable person. Happy people understand how important it is to have strong, healthy relationships. Always take the time to see and talk to your family, friends, or significant other.

16. Meditate.

Meditating silences your mind and helps you find inner peace. You don’t have to be a zen master to pull it off. Happy people know how to silence their minds anywhere and anytime they need to calm their nerves.

17. Eat well.

Junk food makes you sluggish, and it’s difficult to be happy when you’re in that kind of state. Everything you eat directly affects your body’s ability to produce hormones, which will dictate your moods, energy, and mental focus. Be sure to eat foods that will keep your mind and body in good shape.

18. Exercise.

Studies have shown that exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft does. Exercising also boosts your self-esteem and gives you a higher sense of self-accomplishment.

19. Live minimally.

Happy people rarely keep clutter around the house because they know that extra belongings weigh them down and make them feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Some studies have concluded that Europeans are a lot happier than Americans are, which is interesting because they live in smaller homes, drive simpler cars, and own fewer items.

20. Tell the truth.

Lying stresses you out, corrodes your self-esteem, and makes you unlikeable. The truth will set you free. Being honest improves your mental health and builds others’ trust in you. Always be truthful, and never apologize for it.

21. Establish personal control.

Happy people have the ability to choose their own destinies. They don’t let others tell them how they should live their lives. Being in complete control of one’s own life brings positive feelings and a great sense of self-worth.

22. Accept what cannot be changed.

Once you accept the fact that life is not fair, you’ll be more at peace with yourself. Instead of obsessing over how unfair life is, just focus on what you can control and change it for the better.

26 8 / 2012

poeticislam:

“And if you ask about its ground and its soil, then it is of musk and saffron.

And if you ask about its roof, then it is the Throne of the Most Merciful.

And if you ask about its rocks, then they are pearls and jewels.

And if you ask about its buildings, then they are made of bricks of gold and silver.

And if you ask about its trees, then it does not contain a single tree except that its trunk is made of gold and silver.

And if you ask about its fruits, then they are softer than butter and sweeter than honey.

And if you ask about its leaves, then they are softer than the softest cloth.

And if you ask about its rivers, then there are rivers of milk who’s taste does not change, and rivers of wine that is delicious to those who drink it, and rivers of honey that is pure, and rivers of water that is fresh.

And if you ask about their food, then it is fruits from whatever they will choose, and the meat of whatever birds they desire.And if you ask about their drink, then it is Tasneem, ginger, and Kaafoor.

And if you ask about their drinking cups, then they are crystal-clear and made of gold and silver.”

-Ibn al Qayyim (rahimahullah)

26 8 / 2012

poeticislam:

“And if you ask about its shade, then a fast rider would ride in the shade of one of its trees for a hundred years and not escape it.

And if you ask about its vastness, then the lowest of its people would have within his kingdom and walls and palaces and gardens the distance that would be…

17 5 / 2012

Ok, this is it— probably theee best cake i’ve ever made. Everyone loved it— even my dad. Why is that such a big deal? Because he never gives anything a high rating… his mind could be blown by the best filet mignon or creme brulee, and in the end, when you ask him what he thinks, his response will always be “eh..not bad”. Unless it was bad. Then he’d say something like “Eh.. I wouldnt recommend it”. But not this time! I watched baba eat every bite with a smile on his face… he said, “wow”. To top it all off, when I cut a [large] slice to take with me to visit my brother, my dad had an offended look on his face like, “where are you taking that?”… it was pretty special, not gonna lie :)

The combination of a sweet spongy cake, creamy coconut frosting, and chai flavor make this cake difficult to forget.

I’ll probably keep this one for special occasions only :)

The original recipe is from the food network’s site called ‘Jaimie’s Coconut Cake’, but i decided to add the spices I normally would add to the banana chai bread (allspice, cardamon, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger..etc) and put them into the cake batter. Also, I didnt have cream of tartar for the frosting recipe below, so I went with a cream cheese frosting instead. As you can see, its easy to get creative with this one. I think next time I’ll add banana slices to the filling…. we’ll see :)

Ingredients

Cake:

  • Basic 1-2-3-4 Cake but substitute 1 cup canned, unsweetened coconut milk for regular milk, recipe follows

Filling:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup flaked, sweetened coconut

Frosting:

  • 1 recipe 7-minute Frosting
  • Flaked, sweetened coconut, for sprinkling

Directions

Follow directions for Basic 1-2-3-4 Cake, substituting coconut milk for regular milk. While cake is baking, prepare filling. Stir together sugar, sour cream, milk, and coconut in a bowl until well blended. Remove cake layers from oven and allow cake to remain in pans as you prepare to stack and fill. Remove first layer and invert onto cake plate. Using the wrong end of a wooden spoon, poke holes approximately 1-inch apart until entire cake has been poked. Spread 1/3 of filling mixture on cake layer. Top with second layer, repeat process. Top with last layer and repeat process again. (As I stack layers together I stick them with toothpicks to prevent cake from shifting).

Prepare 7-Minute Frosting. Frost top and sides of cake. Sprinkle top and sides of cakes with additional coconut.

Yield: 1 (3-layer) cake

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

You can watch a video here 

Basic 1-2-3-4 Cake:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups sifted self-rising flour
  • *optional* for chai flavor, add 1 tsp of each spice: cardamon, cinnamon, allspice, ground ginger. 
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans. Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour ((with mixed in spices for chai cake)) and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4 inches above counter, then dropping it flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. Cool in pans 5 to 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto cooling racks. Cool completely and spread cake layers with your favorite frosting to make a 3-layer cake.

Yield: 3 layer cakes

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 25 to 30 minutes

Ease of preparation: Easy

7-Minute Frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1 tablespoon white corn syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. (If this happens, it could cause your frosting to become grainy). Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla.

Yield: Frosting for 1 layer cake or approximately 8 to 12 cup cakes

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 7 minutes

19 4 / 2012

In no particular order: baking, cooking, activism for the global south, Palestine, good music, exercising, spirituality, my husband, my mom, and the rest of my immediate family are just a few of my favorite things… or perhaps pillars. Their the pillars that I find so important in my life…  but thats not what i’m here to talk about. 

In the spirit of this being a personal blog that allows me to express the lighter sides of myself, (ie a break from all the heavy political discussions/analysis/rants), I’ve decided that I want to share my fitness journey as well. Considering how important it is to me, how often I do it, and how much I love it (like baking/cooking/eating ;), it only makes sense that I include that in here as well… So, heres to my first fitness post *cheers* :)

As much as i’d love to post pictures of my body’s status/progress throughout the weeks, I won’t/can’t because I’m happy to say that 90% of my work outs are done at home (in my living room) in comfortable workout clothes. and I am a hijabi. Which means, no pictures of my progress on tumblr. sorry. But in reality, its fine since this blog is meant for me, myself, and I anyways.. so i can refer myself over to my phone. duh. lol :)

So, what inspired me to do this blog post to begin with is the accomplishment I felt after this mornings workout—that I created myself! I felt so good about it, so worked out and amazing, that I thought to myself: “I need to post this on tumblr!” (since i’d never post something like this on fb since there are over a thousand ppl on there and thats also where my ‘heavier’ political life resides).

Anyways enough with the chatter— and now onto the workouts! 

Title: burn baby, burn!

Type: body weight

Timer: interval timer

Instructions: set your interval timer for 18 rounds of 10/50 (10 seconds rest, 50 seconds work). There are 6 exercises which means you will complete 3 sets in 18 minutes. If there are any questions on how to do the exercises, refer back to bodyrock.tv for a tutorial. Also see below for explanation. 

Exercises:

1. Low Jack/Tuck Jump combo

2. Oblique/Side Crunch (Right)

3. Oblique/Side Crunch (Left)

4. Triple Plank Jump, Push up, Diagonal Toe Touch (2 rounds)// Dive Bombers (1 round)

5. One legged half squat pulse (Right leg)

6 One legged half squat pulse (Left leg)

Breakdown: 

1. Do three full low jacks (if you’re like me, then they’re actually 6 in and outs) and then jump up and slap your thighs for the tuck jump. This counts as one rep. 

2. Lay on your side and lift your upper body and lower body simultaneously and bring them as close together as possible. the higher you get your lower body, the more effective the move will be for your abs. This counts as one rep. 

3. Do the same as #2 but for the opposite side. 

4. Get into the plank position, do a triple jump (bringing your feet towards your right hand, center, left hand), then drop down and do a push up, and then in the same plank position, bring your opposite hand to opposite foot for a diagonal toe touch. This counts as 1 rep. You will do this move for the first and last (third) rounds only… during the second round, you will do dive bombers during the 50 seconds… If you don’t know what a dive bomber is, go to bodyrock.tv and look at their exercise category and watch their tutorial video. 

5. Get in the one leg squat position (right leg first), go half way down and pulse 3 times before coming back up…this counts as 1 rep. 

6. Do the same for the left leg. 

Complete this set 3 times through and you’ll be so glad you did… its only 18 minutes long and then you’re done for the day! *unless you decide to do what I did and go for a 3 minute bonus* ;) 

Bonus:

Set your timer up for 3 rounds of 10/50… 

1. Santana push up

2. Plank and reptile knee grab (switching sides)

3. Mountain Climbers

aannndd…21 minutes later… im done im done im donnnee!! and i felt incredible. seriously, so worth it. I kept track of my scores so I can try and beat them another time. woo! 

Score:

1. Low Jacks and Tuck Jump: 15/15/15

2. Oblique crunch (right side): 25/25/30

3. Oblique crunch (left side): 36/39/30

4. Triple plank jump, push up, diagonal touch: 5.5/6… Round 2-Dive bombers: 7

5. Triple Pulse half squat (right): 8/7/9

6. Triple pulse half squat (left): 9/8/7

Bonus score:

1. Santana push up: 11

2. Reptile knee grab: 14

3. Mountain climbers: 100

I’m reallllly hoping I can kick my own but at this in a few weeks or so… we shall see! If anyone is curious to try this and/or has any questions…please feel free to ask and share your score with me! Have wonderful rest of your day <3 xx

lbek. 

18 4 / 2012

My good friend and amazing photographer Miriam shot photos of my mother-in-laws art work&#8230; lovely work xx
mstylegroup:

Got a wonderful opportunity to take photos of this very talented artist’s work.
Check out Najat El-Taji El-Khairy’s very special Palestinian inspired art work. All hand-made, all beautiful mashaAllah.  http://www.najat.ca/index.php
“It is said that when the Tree of Life reaches its full height, it will emit a light that spreads around the world.”

My good friend and amazing photographer Miriam shot photos of my mother-in-laws art work… lovely work xx

mstylegroup:

Got a wonderful opportunity to take photos of this very talented artist’s work.

Check out Najat El-Taji El-Khairy’s very special Palestinian inspired art work. All hand-made, all beautiful mashaAllah.  http://www.najat.ca/index.php

“It is said that when the Tree of Life reaches its full height, it will emit a light that spreads around the world.”

(Source: photosbyrm)

15 4 / 2012

poeticislam:

“Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life”.

poeticislam:

“Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life”.

14 4 / 2012

This oatmeal borrows the idea of combining prunes, toasted almonds and sesame seeds from a version of this prune tagine, but they have little in common otherwise. The ingredients are bound together with an exotic undercurrent of coconut oil. The result is an exciting bowl of oatmeal with lots of crunch and balanced sweetness.

I used steel cut oats for this recipe. They’re the only kind I like. I have tried hard to like rolled oats but haven’t been able to. I just couldn’t get the texture. I can even say there is a grave lack of compatibility between rolled oats and me. If you belong to the lucky group of people who tolerates them, you could definitely substitute them in this recipe (adjusting cooking time and liquid level).

OATMEAL WITH PRUNES, TOASTED ALMONDS AND SESAME SEEDS RECIPE

YIELD: 1 SERVING

PREP TIME: 5 MIN.

COOK TIME: 25 MIN.

Ingredients:

For the oats
1 ½ cups water or milk (or a mix)
1/4 cup steel cut oats
¼ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

For the toppings
8 prunes, pitted and chopped
¼ cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds,
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon honey

Directions:

Bring water or milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in the oats and salt, reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, 25 minutes.

Toast the almonds and sesame seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat until golden and fragrant. Stir in honey and coconut oil and cook for a few minutes until melted and slightly bubbly.

Place the oatmeal in a serving bowl. Top with the chopped prunes, coconut oil-honey glazed almonds and sesame seeds, and the rest of the melted coconut oil and honey in the pan.

Stir and taste. Sweeten with more honey if you wish. Enjoy!

14 4 / 2012

This is an easy vegetable tagine that takes less than ten minutes to prepare and leaves you time to relax as it slowly simmers over low heat.

VEGETABLE TAGINE WITH ZUCCHINI, SQUASH AND PEARL ONIONS

YIELD: 4 SERVINGS

PREP TIME: 10 MIN

COOK TIME: 30 MIN

The vegetables in this tagine are crisp-tender and the sauce concentrated and flavorful. You could increase the amount of water a bit for a more abundant sauce. Also, if you prefer, you could cut the zucchini and squash into small pieces instead.

Ingredients:

8 ounces pearl onions, peeled
2 zucchini, quartered
2 squash, quartered

For the sauce
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup hot water
1 ½ teaspoons sweet paprika
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¾ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon harissa or other hot sauce
3 garlic cloves, peeled
16 sprigs flat-leaf parsley or cilantro (or both), thick ends cut off

Directions:

In a medium frying pan, sauté the pearl onions in a little bit of olive oil, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, 5 minutes. Transfer into a large bowl along with the quartered zucchini and squash.

Process all the ingredients for the sauce in a food processor until smooth. Add the sauce to the vegetables and toss well to coat. Transfer the vegetables to a tagine, arranging them into a pile—start by laying a handful of vegetables in the center of a tagine and make the rest lean on them, alternating zucchini and squash, and finishing with the pearl onions on top. Pour any remaining sauce in the bowl over the vegetables.

Cook the tagine, covered, over low heat, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, 30 to 40 minutes.

14 4 / 2012

This one seems really filling and delicious… I can’t wait to serve this one day. 

ROASTED RED PEPPER CHICKPEA SOUP WITH GOAT CHEESE RECIPE

YIELD: 4 TO 6 SERVINGS

PREP TIME: 5 MIN

COOK TIME: 25 MIN

Roasted red peppers, goat cheese, smoked paprika come together beautifully in this chickpea soup. Taste your soup when it’s done and add more smoked paprika, if you wish to have a smokier flavor.

Ingredients:

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 small sweet potato, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 bay leaves
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 (12-oz) jar roasted red peppers, drained (or 2 roasted peppers)

4 ounces soft goat cheese

Directions:

Place all of the ingredients except the roasted red peppers and goat cheese in a soup pot over medium heat. Cover with a lid and cook, 20 to 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.

Add the roasted red peppers and goat cheese. Blend the soup into a puree using a stick or a container blender.

Serve warm with toasted bread drizzled with olive oil and topped with goat cheese.

Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.

14 4 / 2012

This mint-parsley pesto is as fragrant and nutty as an original pesto made with basil. It is truly Mediterranean with a potent mint aroma toned down slightly by the nuttiness of the peanuts.

Mint Pesto Chicken

4 servings

-1 to 1 ¼ pounds boneless skinless
chicken breasts, cut into medium strips
-Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
-3 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
-3 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
-3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
-1/3 cup peanuts or pine nuts
-½ cup olive oil, plus extra for coating the pan.

Soak 6-inch bamboo skewers (about 25).

Place the chicken in a shallow dish and season it with salt and pepper. Thread the chicken onto the skewers.

Pulse the parsley, mint, garlic, nuts and olive oil in a food processor until smooth. Reserve half of the mint pesto to use as a sauce. Use the other half as a marinade by liberally brushing both sides of the chicken with it. Marinate for one hour.

Coat a nonstick pan with olive oil and heat it over medium heat. Cook the chicken for about 5 minutes per side. Serve with the reserved pesto.

14 4 / 2012

I cannot waiiiit to try this one! 

OK, it took me more than a few days to come back with deconstructed bastila. I will have to fess up. I wasn’t sure how to assemble chicken and phyllo without baking them together. A few ideas crossed my mind and I even contemplated doing verrinesagain but finally opted for a mille-feuille (napoleon) look. Then came the picture taking part, the photo editing, the writing, the whole nine yards. These things take so much time, dear reader, and I’m no Superwoman when it comes to hurrying.

The chicken with calabaza and zucchini in chermoula sauce was extremely delicious. Just plain flavorful in and by itself, as well as quick to make. I urge you to go for it whether you’re planning to make bastila or not, although I’m partial to the crispy phyllo accompanying each bite.

Bastila with Chermoula and Fall Vegetables Recipe

4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

For the chermoula sauce
1 teaspoon paprika powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 garlic cloves
12 sprigs cilantro


For the chicken

1 pound chicken breast, diced
1 1/2 cups diced calabaza squash
1/2 cup diced zucchini

For the phyllo
20 sheets phyllo dough
Cooking spray

For garnish
Powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Process all the ingredients for the chermoula in a food processor until smooth.

Place the chermoula and diced chicken in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, turning occasionally, 10 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, add the calabaza and zucchini. Cover with a lid and cook for another 10 minutes. Let cool slightly.

While the chicken is cooking, divide the 20 phyllo sheets into 2 stacks of 10. Cut each stack into 6 rectangles, about the same size. Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray and arrange the phyllo rectangles on it. Spray the rectangles with cooking spray on top and betwenn the sheets. Bake 10 minutes or until golden and crispy.

Place one stack of rectangles on a serving plate, top it with about 3 tablespoons of the chicken-vegetable mixture. Top that with another stack of phyllo, then 3 more tablespoons of chicken and vegetables. Finish with a stack of phyllo and sprinkle it with some powdered sugar. Serve immediately or refrigerate and reheat later.

14 4 / 2012

Taken from dinnersanddreams.net xx

You know what I love about a rustic tart? The simple fact that it is rustic. Rustic means it doesn’t have to look perfect. It only has to taste good. That totally eases the pressure I feel every time I’m about to start baking. With this galette, I didn’t have to worry about the crust coming out lopsided or try hard to make it look like something that came out of a magazine.

With the beautiful pears in season right now, it was easy to pick a fruit for my galette. I was considering apples but thought sweet red pears with some cardamom might be just perfect. Glad I followed my culinary intuition.

Pear galette recipe

YIELD: 6

PREP TIME: 15 MIN

COOK TIME: 45 MIN

TOTAL TIME: 60 MIN

Ingredients:

For the crust
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons unrefined brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
5 ounces cold butter, cut into small pieces
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup chilled water

Egg wash

For the fruit
2 to 3 medium red pears, cored, halved and sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon unrefined brown sugar

For the glaze
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

Directions:

Combine the flour, salt and brown sugar in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 5 seconds. Add the butter and pulse until crumbly. Add the vanilla extract to the water and pour it in the food processor a little at a time pulsing until the dough appears moist enough to stick together. Transfer the dough to a bowl. Form the dough into a ball, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour before use.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Let the dough warm up at room temperature about 10 minutes before stretching it. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12 to 15-inch circle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle it with brown sugar. Carefully transfer the dough circle onto the parchment paper.

Overlap the pear slices on the dough, starting in the center and working your way out into a rose pattern. Stop about 2 inches from the edges. Fold the edges of the dough over the outer rim of the fruit, pleating and pinching as necessary.

Microwave the ingredients for the glaze 30 seconds until melted. Stir and brush the pear slices.

Brush the crust edges with egg wash. Sprinkle the whole tart (crust edges included) with 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Bake until the pears are soft and the dough golden brown and crusty, 45 minutes.

Let cool slightly before enjoying.

14 4 / 2012

Date Truffles Recipe

Yields 9 truffles

¾ cup date paste (date paste recipe)
½ cup pecan chips (or other finely chopped nut)
¼ cup unsweetened or sweetened shredded coconut
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
For coating
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
or
1 cup melted bittersweet chocolate

Combine all of the ingredients, except those for coating, in a mixing bowl. Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls.

To coat the truffles:

1. Place the cocoa powder in a shallow dish and roll the truffles in the coating.
Or
2. Dip the truffles in melted chocolate and allow it to harden 30 minutes or so before serving.

13 4 / 2012

One of my favorite cuisines in the world: Moroccan. You have no idea what happened to me the moment I discovered Nisirine Merzouki’s blog dinnersanddreams.net a few months ago…you don’t know, because I don’t even know. 45 minutes had gone by before I realized that I was still on her site clicking ‘next’ for the next amazing I-have-to-try-this recipe! Of course, with all the chaos around me, I haven’t been able to do that. But thats why i’m posting them here… I know i’ll come back to them if they’re here :) 

TAGINE MDERBEL RECIPE

YIELD: 4

PREP TIME: 10 MIN.

COOK TIME: 40 MIN.

TOTAL TIME: 50 MIN.

Ingredients:

For the eggplants
1 medium (1.5 pound-) eggplant
3 to 4 tablespoons canola or olive oil
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon paprika powder
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste

For the meat
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, grated
3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
½ teaspoon ground pepper
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon paprika powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
A pinch of nutmeg
1 pound boneless beef or lamb shoulder, cut into 1- to 1 1/2–inch cubes
¾ cup water

For garnish (optional)
Pomegranate arils
Chopped mint or cilantro

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut off the top and bottom of the eggplant and peel it, leaving sporadic strips of skin throughout. Cut it into 1-inch cubes. If the eggplant is old, spongy and excessively seedy, you need to salt and drain it for at least 30 minutes before use, otherwise proceed directly.

Place the eggplant cubes in a single layer in an oiled rimmed oven sheet. Generously brush them with olive oil. Sprinkle them with garlic powder, cinnamon, paprika, ginger, salt and pepper. Roast them until soft, 25 to 30 minutes.(Alternatively, fry them until soft.) Remove from the oven and transfer onto a cutting board. Mash the eggplants using a fork or potato masher.

Meanwhile, prepare the meat by placing the olive oil, grated onion, garlic and spices in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the meat cubes. Brown them on all sides, turning once or twice, 5 minutes. Add water and reduce the heat to medium. Cover with a lid and cook 35 minutes, or until the meat is tender and the sauce reduced. Check the water level occasionally and add some if necessary.

Take the meat out of the pot and plate it in the center of a plate or tagine. Add the mashed eggplants to the meat sauce left in the pot. Stir well to amalgamate the flavors. Mound the eggplant mash on top of the meat.

Serve garnished with pomegranate seeds and chopped mint, if you wish.

Delicious!

P.S. Leftovers of this tagine make out-of-this-world sandwiches. Just sayin’.