Sunday, April 13, 2014

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Friday, April 11, 2014

What's for Dinner: Chicken Taco Twist

For Faraz's birthday dinner, tonight, I made this chicken taco twist. I saw this idea for a twisted bread sometime ago, I think on Pinterest, and changed it up to my liking.

Cut them as small or large of a serving as you would like.

What you need:
  • ground chicken
  • taco seasoning
  • bell peppers, diced
  • 2 tubes of [refrigerated] french bread
  • Egg, lightly beaten
  • Oregano
I doubled the recipe and made two twists today.

What I did was:
  1. Season your ground chicken with black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, and chili powder. Cook it over medium heat before adding in the [low sodium] taco seasoning. Mix well.
  2. Add in the diced bell peppers [I used red and yellow ones today] and mix it with the chicken for a few minutes before removing it from the heat.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking tray with foil [for easy cleanup].
  4. Meanwhile, with the french bread dough: score the top from one end to the other [in both loaves]. Next, using your fingers, spread open the dough a few inches to create an indent in the middle for the filling.
  5. Add in the chicken mixture. Now, using your fingers again: pinch the dough together to closing around the mixture completely. Repeat the process with the second bread.
  6. Transfer both loaves onto the lined tray [seam side down], one next to the other. Next, twist the two bread dough with one another as if you were creating a braid.
  7. Brush on the beaten egg on top of the twisted bread. Create score marks/slits on top of the bread dough [for ventilation].
  8. Sprinkle some oregano on top.
  9. Bake in your preheated oven, for about 30 minutes. Or until the top is golden brown and the bread is completely cooked through.
  10. Since I was making two sets, I repeated the process of steps 4-9 a second time.
  11. Slice and serve!
For dessert, I made [individual-sized] chocolate frosted "donut" cakes.

P.S. This post is a part of my "What's for Dinner" series, where I share what I've been cooking and my recipes. Grab and share my button:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What's for Dinner: Barbecue Chicken

BBQs are a favorite around here from spring through fall [and often even in the midst of winter]. In fact, we have already done a barbecue a handful of times in the mere few weeks the weather has been nice. Not to mention I love how healthy it is the way I make mine
Typically I take scored chicken [leg and thigh pieces] and marinate it with black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, lemon juice, yogurt, raw papaya, some tandoori masala and some tikka masala. Working with scored chicken does wonders for the marinade to seep inside. Some days, I use my homemade tandoori masala mix instead, which you can find by clicking here

Let the chicken marinate before cooking it over the charcoal on the barbecue grill outside. 

This recipe is so versatile and I have used this recipe in many ways: cooked slowly over low heat on the stove, in my George Foreman grill, in the oven, with boned-in meat and boneless: it's a fail proof go-to recipe. Not to mention I have used the chicken in many things: on top of pizza, in wraps, burgers, and pita pockets to name just a few from the top of my head. The possibilities are endless. 

Serving this chicken barbecued alongside the raita I mentioned on this post is absolutely delicious and a perfect pair.

P.S. This post is a part of my "What's for Dinner" series, where I share what I've been cooking and my recipes. Grab and share my button:

Saturday, April 5, 2014

What's for Dinner: Baked Boneless Chicken Wings

I turned my boneless chicken wings recipe into a healthier version today [Friday night] by baking them. Full of flavor, without the oil/frying factor.

Here's how I made it today:
  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking tray with foil. Spray non-stick cooking spray over the foil.
  2. I seasoned boneless chicken cubes with black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and onion powder. Mix in an egg.
  3. Meanwhile, [in a ziploc bag] season your flour with black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, and chili powder.
  4. In batches, coat all of your chicken with the flour mixture. Just add the chicken into the ziploc bag and shake well until it's nicely incorporated.
  5. Transfer your coated chicken onto the lined foil tray. Before transferring it into your preheated oven, spray non-stick cooking spray over the top of the chicken.
  6. Bake the chicken, in your preheated oven, for about 10-12 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, mix your [heated up] hot sauce and about a tablespoon of [melted] butter.
  8. Let your chicken cool for a few minutes once it is out of the oven before coating it with the sauce.

P.S. This post is a part of my "What's for Dinner" series, where I share what I've been cooking and my recipes. Grab and share my button:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What's for Dinner: Sweet Chili Shrimp

For dinner tonight, I recreated the Sweet Chili Shrimp appetizer from Red Lobster. I made a homemade version of Sweet Chili Shrimp [and served it over a bed of lettuce]... and it tasted spot on. By the way, click here for my version of their Cheddar Bay Biscuits which would be great to serve alongside this shrimp!

What I did was basically make my popcorn shrimp recipe to start off. Minus the salt, since I was adding sauce. And I added chili powder and onion powder to the shrimp.
  1. So: I took [small] shrimp [peeled and deveined] and seasoned it with black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, onion powder and chili powder.
  2. Next, add in an egg [amount depending on how much shrimp you are working with... just enough to "wet" the shrimp so the breading sticks].
  3. When you are ready to fry the shrimp: in a ziploc bag [for convenience and easy cleanup], add in flour [amount depending on how much shrimp you are working with] and season the flour with black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper and chili powder. Shake well to make sure the flour is thoroughly seasoned.
  4. Add in the shrimp, in batches, to the flour. Shake well.
  5. Finally, fry the shrimp until they are golden brown!
Meanwhile, for the Sweet Chili sauce, I just used a store-bought sauce today. I wanted to make sure the taste would be accurate, and it was, so next time I'll experiment with making the sauce completely homemade too. That's not to say, the store-bought wasn't a great help/alternative: I'm all about semi-homemade/getting some help from the store when I can, but I do like controlling the quantity/quality of ingredients in my food which is why I prefer homemade when I can. 

Today, I used the Sweet Chili sauce from the brand "Frank's Red Hot".
  1. After allowing the fried shrimp to cool somewhat for a few minutes, toss the shrimp with the sauce. Coat all the shrimp with the sauce.
  2. Once your shrimp is coated, transfer it on top of the [chopped] bed of lettuce.
  3. Optional: for presentation purposes, adding a sprinkle of chopped scallions on top would be a great touch.

P.S. This post is a part of my "What's for Dinner" series, where I share what I've been cooking and my recipes. Grab and share my button:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What's for Dinner: Cajun Roasted Potatoes

To serve alongside my Cajun shrimp, I made these Cajun roasted [red] potatoes.

I cut my red potatoes into small pieces [first I halved them, then quartered each half]. I transferred all of the potatoes onto a foil-lined baking sheet, Next, I sprayed the potatoes with non-stick cooking spray before I seasoned the potatoes with black pepper, garlic powder, salt, onion powder, paprika, and of course Cajun seasoning.

I baked it in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes all together. For the first half of the baking time, I had all the potatoes facing skin side up. For the second half? Skin side down.

P.S. This post is a part of my "What's for Dinner" series, where I share what I've been cooking and my recipes. Grab and share my button:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What's for Dinner: Cajun Shrimp

I seasoned my shrimp with black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, Cajun seasoning and lemon juice. In a preheated 400 degree oven, I baked my shrimp for about 12 minutes.
I served these alongside my Cajun roasted [red] potatoes.

P.S. This post is a part of my "What's for Dinner" series, where I share what I've been cooking and my recipes. Grab and share my button:

Thursday, March 20, 2014


This past Sunday, I attended a janaza prayer [AKA salat-ul-janaza] for the father of one our family doctor's. Janaza prayers are the Islamic funeral prayers.

Now I've attended quite a few funeral prayers. My first memory of attending one, unfortunately, [for a close family member] is back in 2001 for my 15 month old baby girl cousin Aliya. And before today, that was the most packed one I remember attending. The day of Aliya's was also  jummah-tul-wida so the crowd was a combination of family/friends and mere Muslim strangers that happened to be at the mosque for the holiday.

This past Sunday, at the very same mosque, subhanAllah, there was the same large crowd, if not an even larger crowd. All the side rooms, the offices, and the library were packed with people besides the main congregational prayer area, yet there was still not enough room to accommodate everyone-- there were still people outside the mosque.

It hasn't left my mind since.

I had never met the person who passed away. It speaks volumes to me, however, to see the community turnout for this man's funeral prayers. Including several imams from local mosques. It says so much about this man's character and how he must have lived.

We so often let the daily mundanes get the better of us and worry about the frivolous tangible possessions. We focus so much on the now-- the this very moment in our lives. We worry about the past. Janazas are just the very real throw-in-your-face reminder that we all need more often that everyone must die one day. It should make you refocus and think about what is important in your life, and let go of the trivial nonsense. It should make you want to better yourself and your iman [faith].

It's inevitable that we must all die one day. But what do you want to be remembered for? Are you maximizing your good deeds while working on improving yourself in the areas you aren't too happy with? Are you leaving a lasting impression? Is it a good one? Are you making a difference with your life? 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What's for Dinner: Chocolate Chip Cookie a la Mode

For my parents' 30th anniversary last night, for the dessert, I made this individual sized chocolate chip cookie [mini pie sort of things] that I served with french vanilla ice cream. A la mode means to be served with a scoop of ice cream.

Click here for my homemade chocolate chip cookie recipe. I baked them in a muffin pan, in a preheated 325 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

To garnish? Drizzle chocolate syrup or hot fudge on top followed by a sprinkle of walnuts.

Click here to see the recipe for the chicken and roasted potatoes if you missed it yesterday.

P.S. This post is a part of my "What's for Dinner" series, where I share what I've been cooking and my recipes. Grab and share my button:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What's for Dinner: Chicken Tawook and Roasted Potatoes

Today marks my parents 30th wedding anniversary!

I've been out of the kitchen for the most part post-surgery, but tonight I made these chicken kababs. Tawook
is pretty much cubed chicken that is marinated, skewered and then grilled.

I marinated the boneless chicken cubes with salt, black pepper, chili powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, ginger powder, onion powder, thyme, ground mustard, lemon juice, yogurt, and raw papaya [to help tenderize the meat]. Let the marinated chicken sit for a few hours.

Set your broiler on high. Skewer your chicken. Put it under the broiler for about 15 minutes. Take it out, flip them over, and set back under the broiler for another 7-10 minutes.

Broiling Tip: Whenever you use the broiler feature in the oven, make sure you leave the oven door open a little bit.

I served the chicken alongside a combination of corn, peas, and roasted potatoes.

For the roasted potatoes: I took small gold potatoes-- cut each in half, and then each half into quarters (small pieces-- you get the picture). I seasoned them with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, and chipotle powder. Drizzled them with olive oil. Mix well. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes.

For dessert, I made chocolate chip cookie a la modeA la mode means to be served with a scoop of ice cream. I'll try and post that tomorrow: easy and delicious as usual.

P.S. This post is a part of my "What's for Dinner" series, where I share what I've been cooking and my recipes. Grab and share my button:

Friday, March 14, 2014

My Recipes Featured in Local Newspaper

When my brother Ayaz emailed me a link to a tweet by our local newspaper asking for our favorite pizza pie recipes, I let it sit in my email box for a few days before going, "what the heck, I'll share my Bubble-up Pizza and my favorite pizza recipe.

I figured that would be it, a RT (retweet on twitter) at the most.

Surprisingly, shortly thereafter, I got an email from the Social Media Editor affiliated with the newspaper. She asked me whether I would mind sharing some of my recipes on a post they would be featuring for Pi Day (today), how I started cooking, and why I post my recipes on my blog amongst a few other things.

As a result, my Pi Day recipes from last year (Chicken Pot Pie and a Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie) are part of their Pi Day feature in their newspaper's website today [alongside a link to my "What's for Dinner" secton of the blog!

Click here to see the full article (mine is the last one). Below, I took a screen shot of my portion [because I'm not sure if the link will work for everyone or not.):

Friday, March 7, 2014

Thyroid Surgery

Two weeks ago, on February 21st, I had my first [and God-willing last] surgery. Thyroid surgery to be precise.

It's one of the toughest and scariest things, if not the toughest and scariest thing, I have [physically] faced [as of yet] in my life.

It's been a hard two weeks of recovery thus far but, alhumdulillah, slowly getting better each day. Which wouldn't be possible without the help of Ami. The first week post-op I wasn't supposed to move my neck left/right/anywhere and I couldn't lay down. Yes, I stayed sitting for a week straight and that's how I "slept". Ami helped me around the clock, which I truly appreciate.

Night eight, I figured I'd attempt to sleep on my side. In my sleep, however, I decided to be rebellious and ended up sleeping on my stomach. Not a fun way to wake up: sore and painful.

But alhumdulillah.

Thyroid issues are becoming more and more common, but before my surgery I didn't know anyone who had to have surgery because of one. I still don't know anyone personally actually. Just that, it's no fun.

As a result of said surgery: I, now, have a [not so] lovely scar that will remain for the rest of my days on my neck as a reminder. But the more optimistic me is going to look at it as a reminder of what I overcame in the process.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


This blog has been my open journal for several years now. Writing has always been an outlet for me.

I've shared my recipes, my thoughts, my reflections, and what's going on in my life. Except for one part. It's something I have not shared here, because quite honestly it's something I haven't shared with most people in my life. Yes, a select few have known.

So why hide it, you ask? Quite honestly, I just didn't want to deal with people's reactions/questions/concerns. No matter how good some people's intentions may be, it's just not worth it when you look at the big picture.

Who knew that such a small part of the human body could wreak so much havoc? Or have an effect on so many other parts of the body? I certainly didn't know to the full extent until about two and a half years ago when my thyroid went, well, crazy.

February 2014 marks two years since I found out I had hyperthyroidism after six months of keeping the doctors guessing. And you know what apparently may have causes/triggered it? A flu or a flu-like virus (like the one that hit me like a brick in September 2011).

While the opposite hypothyroidism is much more common than my hyperthyroidism, for both ends of spectrum I can honestly say: you don't know what it feels like or what it does to you until you experience it. One of the best and worst things, all at the same time, about thyroid issues is that it's hard for the outside world to know/realize for the most part. Besides the obvious weight loss, of course.

The constant fatigue? The lack of sleep? The effect on your gastro system? Appetite? Muscles? Constant body aches? Sadly, by the two year mark you become used to the fact that this the new "normal". I kid you not, at one point or another: it has effected every part of me.

For over two years, I dealt with this thyroid issue. But that's not exactly what this post is about: it's about a thyroid nodule that is of concern- a totally unrelated matter [to my hyperthyroidism] in my case. Tomorrow morning, I go in for a thyroid lobectomy (or a total thyroidectomy) [depending on what is found during the surgery].

It's my first surgery ever, and to say I am terrified and apprehensive would be the biggest understatement. It wasn't too long ago, afterall, that I would get all uptight about blood draws and injections. But I know He, above, is the best of planners. Everything happens for a reason. This, too, shall pass.

Please keep me in your duas [prayers] and/or thoughts.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An Evening with Cory Booker [at Rutgers]

I was at the event when Bill Clinton came to Rutgers at the height of Barack Obama's election campaign [when I was still a Rutgers student]. I met/shook hands with Barack Obama when he came to FDU. Not to mention I met Nelson Mandela as an elementary school student in Canada when he visited Toronto, Ontario. Rutgers has hosted others that I attended as well including Rachel Maddow and Nicole Wallace.

a blurry picture, but whatever.
Last night, Rutgers hosted Cory Booker (newly elected to the US Senate). Not only did I get to hear him speak in person [like with the others], but this time there was an added benefit: I got to interact directly with him. An amazing opportunity for someone like me who is so into politics.

It started off as a simple tweet expressing my disappointment that questions would supposedly be limited to students from a certain American government class at Rutgers. Booker addressed it on twitter, asked about/for me [by name] right when he walked in to the room and later addressed the question. Which I appreciated very much so.

It's just something else when you get the opportunity to interact with someone in public office that genuinely wants to make a difference in the community. And let me tell you: his personality shines even more in person. If you follow him on Twitter or follow the news, you already have an idea of how "hands-on" involved he is in his community. How many politicians actually do that? Not many. And when they do, they need to be recognized, appreciated, and used as examples as for what the constituents deserve.

For all that he has done for Newark, I look forward to him extending that and applying it to New Jersey as a whole. It's not just Newark he represents now, but like he said himself several times last night: he now "represents the entire state" of New Jersey.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What's for Dinner: Braided Pizza Bread

It's a cold and snowy day [again]. We seem to be having a lot of these lately. Another foot of snow, making the total for the winter season thus far unreasonably high.

As a mid afternoon snack, I made this braided pizza bread using a refrigerated pizza dough I had handy. I lay the rectangular dough out on foil [for easy cleanup] on top of a baking sheet. cut the top and bottom parts of the dough to create strips.

Down the center, pour marinara sauce, shredded mozarella cheese, parmesan cheese, oregano flakes, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Next time, I'd add strips of bell peppers and chicken too.

Fold the strips on top to create a braided look. Brush the top gently with oil oil. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and oregano.

Bake in your preheated 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

P.S. This post is a part of my "What's for Dinner" series, where I share what I've been cooking and my recipes. Grab and share my button:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What's for Dinner: Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake

Cheesecake and chocolate chip cookies are pretty high on the list of "my favorite desserts". Here are a few other variations I have done as well: my chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake and chocolate chip cheesecake.

What I did today, instead, was use cookie as the base of the cheesecake [crust], and put chocolate chips in the filling portion along with the little leftover cookie dough batter. Just mix it right in. 

It was pretty much a chocolate chip cookie cheesecake...yum!

What you need:
  • Your favorite cookie dough recipe or store-bought cookie dough.
  • 2 [8-ounce] packages of cream cheese, softened/room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • [about] 2/3 cup of milk chocolate chips
What I did was:
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Spray your springform pan with non-stick cooking spray as an extra precaution.
  2. Make your cookie dough using your favorite recipe or use a pre-made dough/log [let it come to room temperature]. Press the chocolate chip cookie dough down into the base of your springform pan.
  3. To make the filling, in a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add a cup of milk chocolate chips [and any left over cookie dough batter you have] and mix. Tip: to keep your chocolate chips from sinking to the bottom, toss them with about a teaspoon of flour.
  5. Transfer your filling to the spring-form pan on top of the cookie dough base.
  6. Bake in your preheated oven for about an hour.
  7. Optional: for presentation purposes, if I was serving this to guests, I'd melted milk chocolate chips and drizzled that on top of the cheesecake before serving it.

P.S. This post is a part of my "What's for Dinner" series, where I share what I've been cooking and my recipes. Grab and share my button:

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