Date Bars

Throw away whatever Fig Newtons you may have in the house. They cannot compare. (And please forgive the not-so-great pictures…my camera wasn’t being too compliant with me).

The natural caramel-like sweetness of the dates + chewy oatmeal crust make the best pair. These may not be as cute as Pop Hearts, but they’re absolutely delicious. And (relatively) healthy compared to your average bar with rolled oats replacing the majority of the flour and apple sauce in place of a third of the butter.

I used to dislike dates, but as I grew older I discovered that dates are similar to cheese (not in taste, obviously). You can dislike certain kinds of cheeses, but you can’t possibly hate all cheese. The same rule applies with dates–there are so many different varieties of dates (Wikipedia it and you’ll find over 40 kinds) that it’s impossible to generalize. Continue reading

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Pop Tarts and Pop Hearts

I promise you this is not a tribute to Valentine’s Day. I just happened to think heart-shaped pop tarts would be adorable.

And they were.

Technically I made homemade mini-pies since I used pie crust. Please don’t hate me. I really hate not making things from scratch but my mother continues to buy the pre-made crusts (darn you, Pillsbury!) and would kill me if I made my own crust when there’s already some in the fridge.

I knew when I first saw homemade pop tarts (or mini-pies…whatever you want to call them) on the internet I needed to make them, but I wanted to add my own twist to it. More specifically, I was looking for an excuse to use my cookie cutters (in case you didn’t already know, I bought a 101 cookie cutter set about a week ago).

I decided to make them heart-shaped. The red strawberry jam made these heart-shaped treats even more enjoyable.

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Perfect Pita Bread (and Some Happy News)

I don’t know what it is about bread that I love so much…I think it’s everything: the taste, the texture, the aroma (fresh bread makes me swoon…does anyone else get think they should make a bakery-smelling perfume or something?).

When I was in Egypt, I practically lived off fresh pita bread. Most of the time I wouldn’t even eat it with anything– just plain pita bread, fresh and warm, straight from the bakery It was heavenly. So you can imagine my horror when I came back to America last summer and couldn’t find fresh pita bread anywhere (and I don’t live in the middle of nowhere, either… I’m certain that there are at least 4 McDonald’s within a 2-mile radius from where I am).

Eventually I discovered the store-bought packaged pita breads and decided to give them a try…and you know what I realized? Store-bought packaged pita breads are a disgrace to pita breads. Continue reading

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Oreo Truffles

Brace yourself…because I’m about to use one of the most overused words on the food blogosphere to describe these oreo truffles:

Decadent.

It’s a word I’ve been avoiding since I started food blogging, but with these truffles, it’s inevitable. It’s really the first word that comes to mind when you’re savoring one (or two) of them. I actually halved this recipe because I thought it would be too much for my family to handle, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that. They go fast.

And guess what? No baking is required whatsoever. Just crushing, mixing, forming, and coating.

Continue reading

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Pecan Pie Bites, in Pictures

FACT: Bite-sized desserts make everything better.

I was initially fearful of making pecan pie…I’m generally not a big fun of “nutty” treats and I’d never tried pecan pie before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But you know what?  I loved these and am incredibly glad I decided to fun-size them! They were so rich in caramel flavor that my mom and brother were in awe when I told them that I didn’t add any caramels/ caramel sauce.

The syrup, although delectable, may be a tad sweet for some taste buds, but that can be fixed by reducing the sugar…at first thought it was too sweet for me, but I must have changed my mind because I wound up licking the bowl clean with my mixing spoon. (I totally only did that so I wouldn’t waste anything *covers extending Pinocchio nose*).

All in all, these pecan pie bites were amazing. Not only that, but it was simple…so simple that I’m even going to show you how I did it.

First thing’s first! Get your ingredients (your sugar, butter, eggs, and corn syrup) and whisk them together in a bowl. I don’t have a picture of this process, but it’s easy enough.

Next, take your pecans…

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Garlic Bread Knots (and Blog Awards!)

Note to self:
When working with yeast, and the recipe tells you to wait until dough is doubled, wait until the dough is doubled. Do not get impatient with your incompetent yeast and go right on ahead with baking.

Although these garlic knots didn’t turn out soft and puffy as initially planned (my yeast is cruel), they still turned out fantastic–you know a recipe is good when you screw up and everyone still loves it.

But before I begin talking about these garlic rolls, I have some exciting news!

Yesterday Maya of the wonderful and exotic blog Foodiva’s Kitchen presented me with 2 blog awards! Although I don’t know Maya personally, she has been a big supporter of my small blog and is one of the sweetest and most talented people you’ll ever meet. Be sure to check her blog out– it is filled with amazing recipes and ingredients you probably didn’t know existed (did you know there’s a purple sweet potato? I didn’t!).

Now, to be honest, I don’t really know how these blog awards work. I’m not certain whether they’re an annual thing, or something that’s passed on…but I do know that if you receive an award, your blog is admired. And I couldn’t be happier. :)

Here are the 2 wonderful awards I received:

1) A Fabulous Blog Award:


2) 360 degree Foodie Award:

Thank you so much, Maya, I’m honored. :)

Now, back to the garlic knots! Continue reading

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Gingerbread Cookies (and a Snickerdoodle Update)

My two friends and I thought it would be fun to bake gingerbread cookies and snickerdoodles together. (The snickerdoodle update is at the bottom of this post).

It definitely was.

It’s fun even if, hypothetically, your friends decide to play Jesse McCartney’s music in the background and you’re left wondering why they actually know the lyrics.

Poor Odd taste in music aside, the results of these gingerbread cookies were phenomenal. I loved them, and that’s saying a lot because I’ve never really liked the taste of gingerbread cookies; I always thought they were a little too hard and a little too ginger-y. These cookies, however, came out perfectly chewy (while still keeping their crispiness) and molasses-y with the perfect combination of ginger. Continue reading

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Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies and a Happy New Year’s Resolutions

Happy 2011, everyone!

Raise your hand if you have had the same exact goal(s) on your New Years resolution list for over 5 years.

I know you’re all silently raising your hands, and it’s okay. We’ve all been there.

To avoid ridiculously general goals such as  “be healthier” and “get more organized” (I’m still working on that), I’ve decided to have weekly/daily resolutions alongside my annual resolutions. Long-term goals are impossible without short-term goals. Really, using this method helped me accomplish all of my goals last year (a flat-out miracle if you personally know me).

For example, if your long-term goal is to become a doctor (God help me), you first have to do well in college. In order to do well in college, you have to stop having a social life study, eat, and sleep well. In order to study well, you have to understand the concepts of what you’re studying, which may require you to read more or stay after class to ask questions. In order to sleep well, you have to learn to organize your time so that you don’t fall asleep at 2:30 AM using your book as a pillow after wasting hours watching TV. And so on.

Think of it as a Russian babushka doll… without the little babushka dolls inside the big babushka dolls, the big babushka doll would be hollow and unfulfilled.

…It sounded really clever in my head, I swear. Continue reading

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Top Posts of 2010!

It’s that time of year again. The time where resolutions are made and broken, where you can’t help but wonder how an entire 365 days flew by so quickly, even though so much has changed. I’m so grateful for the past year, I feel like 2010 is the year I’ve really blossomed: creatively, intellectually, socially, and mentally.

2010 also happens to be the year I decided to go through with this blog– it’s been so great so far, I can’t wait to see what 2011 will bring! :)

Since all the other food bloggers seem to be making lists of their top ten viewed posts of 2010, I figured it would be fun to hop on the bandwagon as well! (Although I did just begin this blog in September, so I guess these are just the Top 10 of the last 4 months).

Here are the Top 10 posts of 2010!

10) Apple Pie (yes, this is a more recent picture)

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Snickerdoodles

I bet other cookies make fun of Snickerdoodle’s name all the time.


Chocolate Chip: Haha, Snickerdoodle?

Gingerbread Man: Seriously, what’s up with this cookie?

Peanut Butter: So lame!

Molasses: Lol, he’s a doodle that snickers.

Snickerdoodle: At least my parents were creative enough to name me something other than the components I consist of!

*All the other cookies shut up*

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Mini Cheesecake Galore

If you’re a cheesecake nonbeliever, then prepare to be converted.

These cheesecakes are so amazing. So so so amazing. (Can you tell I’m excited about this recipe?)

Not only did the pictures turn out fabulous (yay for scrapbook backgrounds and my camera alhamdullilah!), but these mini cheesecakes actually taste better than they look. Don’t ask me how. I’m still in awe.

At first glance, it looks like the crust is overpowering the cheese. But it’s not. It’s the perfect ratio, I promise you. The only reason the crust looks uneven if because I don’t think I let it harden enough in the oven. It doesn’t even matter–the crust has the most perfect taste and texture known to cheesecake-kind.

I made these beautiful creatures one moon eclipse ago Continue reading

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Blueberry Muffins

I love asking people for help on decisions.
Mainly because I’m the most indecisive person in the world…
And if I hadn’t, I might not have made these amazing blueberry muffins.

I was in a pickle, you see (not literally. Just in case you have Asperger’s. It’s an autism spectrum disorder, and one of the characteristics of the disorder is that the person might understand everything too literally…yes, I  just read a book about Asperger’s).

Back to the pickle: I couldn’t decide what to bake with the wonderful blueberries in the fridge. The problem had to be resolved as soon as possible because I was eating them all.

The little blueberries were begging me to bake them so I decided to ask yet another Facebook question. Blueberry pie or blueberry muffins? I was surprised to see that everyone wanted muffins. I don’t know why…I personally would have voted for the pie. Maybe blueberry pie scares people.

Anyway, since the vote was unanimous (and I didn’t have enough blueberries to make pie anymore, ahem), I made you guys blueberry muffins! Yay! The people have spoken! Power to the people!

I’ll stop now, I promise.

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Egg-in-a-Basket

You: What the hell, Miss Anthropist? Egg-in-a-Basket? It’s not Easter. And even if it was, you’re Muslim.

Me: Uhh, it’s not an egg basket…it’s called an Egg-in-a-Basket. It’s a kind of breakfast!

You: Another breakfast?

Me: I’m sorry, but give me a break. I haven’t baked anything last week. I promise you’ll like this, though!

You: Fine. Explain what it is.

Me: It’s basically another way to eat eggs for breakfast that not many people are aware of. It’s super simple and super delicious.

You: So what is it, like an Omelet?

Me: No… you don’t beat the eggs at all.

You: Oh, so it’s like Sunny-side-up?

Me: Close, but with toast. And you flip it over.

You: *scratches head* Like French Toast?

Me: …I just told you that the eggs don’t get beaten.

You: How do you flip unbeaten eggs with toast?! I’m so confused.

Me: Don’t worry, I’m going to to explain right now. With pictures and everything.

You: *sighs in relief* Thank you! Continue reading

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Tiramisu Pancakes and some fun news!

Exciting news is at the end of this post! Let’s start with the goodies, shall we?
My friends, this isn’t a dessert (though it certainly can be).
This is your new favorite breakfast.

I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t like Tiramisu. And Tiramisu pancakes? Genius! I will be honest… I was so excited to make these babies when I discovered the recipe, that I used the pre-made frozen pancakes.

Don’t look at me like that, at least I made the cream! And sprinkled cocoa powder over it. That counts for something, right?

You would do the same.

But just in case you guys are patient enough to make your own, completely from-scratch pancakes, I will still provide you with a great pancake recipe as well as the recipe for the Tiramisu cream.

Well, I don’t have much else to say, except do yourselves a favor and make this. For breakfast, for dessert…it doesn’t really matter. Just make them!

Continue reading

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Creation of the iPhone Cake, in pictures…sort of.

For those of you who are friends with me on Facebook, you may recall the iPhone cake I uploaded about a month ago.

This cake got more reviews and likes than I’d ever expected to receive, so I thought a few of you wonderful people would be interested in seeing how the cake was made. :)

About a week or so before my dad’s birthday, his iPhone fell on the ground and the screen was massively cracked (thankfully it was still functioning…until we tried to fix the screen. Another story for another time.) At the time, I was still trying to decide what kind of cake to bake my dad, and that’s when I got the idea: an iPhone cake! My dad adored his iPhone, and how flipping awesome would that be?

Then I realized I had never worked with fondant in my entire life, and although this cake didn’t turn out all too difficult, it was pretty daunting for a beginner such as myself. After days of research, and countless “how to work with fondant” video tutorials, I decided that I was ready (ish).

Below I’ve compiled the steps I took to make the cake, with a couple of pictures for your visual pleasure. Obviously I didn’t include everything I did…because I kind of have no ideait will probably bore you.

If you’re a fondant expert, please feel free to give me some tips. I’m such an amateur.

Pre-Step Steps I took:

1) Decide on what cake you’re going to bake, and think about how you plan on decorating it. Don’t over think it though, because you’ll probably be improvising a lot of the time.

2) Watch a lot of how-to tutorials.

3) Make your own fondant, or buy your own at least the day before you decide to make the cake.

4) You’re going to need a few general supplies such as a fondant smoother, fondant rolling pin. They’re not necessary but they sure do make life a whole lot easier.

5) Make free time. You’ll need it.

Step #1: Bake the cake. Don’t worry if the cake’s cracked like mine is–that’s what the next step is for. ;)

Step #2: Crumb coat the cake with frosting of choice. This will act as both a “glue” to the fondant and a concealer to hide any imperfections. Before crumbcoating, you can also cut your cake in half and put buttercream in between to add moisture.

Step #3: Place the crumb-coated cake in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Me being my slightly dyslexic self, did Steps #2 and #3 in the wrong order…I put the cake in the fridge first and then crumb-coated it. Horrible mistake… unless you want a super dry cake.
(That rhymed!).

Step #4: Get all your fondant ready (Note: As stated in the pre-step steps above, the fondant should be made and/or bought before you make the cake, but prepared/shaped/rolled out after so it doesn’t dry out).

I made my own fondant with marshmallow fluff + powdered sugar the day before, rolled it into a ball, and placed it in the fridge the day before. SO easy! Then I used food coloring to color the fondant. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the food coloring process, otherwise my camera would be technicolored. I had to wear plastic gloves.

Step #5: Generously and I mean generously cover your counter top/ wooden board with powdered sugar. Take it from someone who nearly broke down in tears when the fondant kept sticking to the dang board.

Step #6: Roll out your “main” fondant. In this case, I used store-bought buttercream black fondant (If you want to save money, make your own fondant and only buy fondant if you need the colors red or black, since these are practically impossible to make with a small amount of dye. See? I learned stuff!). Place fondant over cake, and smooth it out.

Step #7: Shape your other fondant and decorate! :)

Of course the pictures probably make the process look like butterflies and rainbows… but man oh man was this time-consuming. And so many little obstacles along the way!

The most annoying challenges of making the iPhone cake:

1) Rolling the black fondant to place over the cake. This was so frustrating I was about to break down in tears–the shape was really difficult to get, since it had to cover a rectangle, and when I did finally get the shape, I couldn’t lift it without it sticking to the wooden board. After a few more tries, I realized all I had to do was make sure the board wasgenerously covered in powdered sugar so the fondant won’t stick.

2) Coloring the fondant. It wasn’t really difficult as it was annoying (On the plus side, I totally relearned my color wheel).

3) Making the icons was kind of tiring as well….and deciding which icons to use (if you know me, you know I’m the most indecisive person in the universe).

In spite of all these things, I’d totally do it again. :)


UPDATE:

Someone (who lives in Egypt) asked me to put details of what cake I used/ how I made the fondant. Here’s a little detail for those who want it:

I made a normal cake using this recipe:
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Black-Magic-Cake/Detail.aspx (you don’t have to add the coffee if you don’t want to). But you can use any recipe you want. A pound cake recipe would be good, because the cake needs to be strong.

Then for the fondant, I bought the black fondant. I’m not sure where you can find it in Egypt, unfortunately… It’s really hard to make black fondant (practically impossible, especially for the amount you need), so I’m not sure exactly how you can do do the iPhone cake without it…
If you can’t find the black fondant, then try picking out a different cake to make. There’s so much stuff you can do with fondant!

For the colored fondant, I made it myself with something called marshmallow fluff. That’s most likely not in Egypt either, but very it’s easy to make using marshmallows and powdered sugar.
Here’s a link to the recipe for the fondant:
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Marshmallow-Fondant/Detail.aspx

I’m sorry I didn’t give too much detail, it’s just that there’s a LOT of steps to working with fondant and I didn’t want to confuse anyone.
Just make sure you watch a lot of How-To fondant tutorials in order to work with the fondant.

Here’s how to color the fondant:
http://www.wilton.com/decorating/fondant/coloring-fondant.cfm

And some videos I watched for how to work with fondant:
http://monkeysee.com/play/15845-how-to-decorate-a-cake-with-fondant
http://monkeysee.com/play/986-cake-decorating-how-to-crumb-coat

Insha’Allah next time I work with fondant I’ll have a REAL step-by-step thing on how to do it…it’s just that I didn’t have time to get organized for the blog and everything.
Good luck you guys! If you have any more questions just ask on the blog (so other people can see the answers) and I’ll do my best to answer them :)

Posted in Cakes | Tagged , , , , | 39 Comments