Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Most Delicious Cake Recipe (and easy, too!)

This super simple cake recipe comes out beautifully every time. The batter takes about 5 minutes to whip up if your ingredients are prepped and it takes just about 20-30 minutes to bake. Every person who's ever tasted it requests more, almost immediately. It's my favorite go-to baking recipe and it's amazingly versatile. You can add just about anything!

What you will need for the basic cake recipe:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • optional additions (see below)

What to do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 175 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease/butter and flour a 9 x 12 ish cake pan.
  3. Cream together butter and sugar until well blended and a little fluffy. 
  4. Add eggs and stir until fully blended.
  5. Stir in vanilla.
  6. Sift in flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until fully incorporated.
  7. Pour in milk. Stir carefully (or it will splash!) until fully blended.

That's your basic vanilla cake batter. If you stop there and bake it, it will be absolutely delicious. BUT, you can make some additions - pretty much anything works. Here are some options:

  • Stir in a couple of generous handfuls of dried blueberries or raisins.
  • Stir in a couple of tablespoons of flavorful honey. I like the local Sudanese honey I get, but any tasty honey will work.
  • Stir in a few tablespoons of rose water or orange blossom water.
  • Stir in a few handfuls of chocolate chips.
  • Stir in a handful of chopped almonds and some almond extract.
  • Add a cup of grated carrot, squeezed dry-ish along with a 1/2 teaspoon of grated nutmeg.

OR, if you're adventurous, add a combination. I just made blueberry/vanilla/honey/orange blossom cake and it's amazing!

Then pour your beautiful batter into the pan and bake until the top springs back when pressed gently or a knife inserted comes out clean. This usually takes about 20-25 minutes for me.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Nutty Cauliflower Soup

This golden soup has a luscious, velvety texture and subtle sweetness. Start to finish, it's ready in under an hour.

What You Will Need:

  • 2-3 tbs of olive oil
  • One large onion, diced.
  • 2 cups of pumpkin, cubed
  • 4-5 medium carrots, sliced
  • 2 cups of sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 small head of cauliflower, chopped any way you like
  • 2-3 tbs peanut butter
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped finely
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth, stock or water
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsely
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • An immersion blender (unless you have some other method for pureeing large quantities of hot soup!)


  1. Sautee the onion in the olive oil until wilted.
  2. Add the pumpkin, carrots, sweet potato, cauliflower, ginger, nutmeg and liquid.
  3. Simmer until vegetables can be easily pierced with a fork.
  4. Turn off the heat and let the pot cool down until it stops bubbling.
  5. Using an immersion blender puree everything in the pot. Keep going until there are no chunks of veggies left. Be sure the immersion blender is completely submerged and not tilted, because the soup is still HOT and it will come flying up out of the pot and land on you if you're not careful. 
  6. Add coconut milk and peanut butter. Puree again until these are incorporated evenly throughout.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Add chopped parsley and stir.
  9. Eat!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Best Soup Ever

I couldn't decide what to call this soup. It is, I suppose, a chicken soup. But it's so much more! I'll never go back to regular chicken soup again. Even my picky child was happy with this soup, veggies and all! The most surprising ingredient, if you're not familiar with seeing it in savory dishes, is peanut butter. I brought the leftover soup to work to share and it was rated 11 on a scale of 1 to 10. I promise it is worth trying!

For extra flavor, you can use the bones and/or carcass of the whole chicken if you've got them. I used the leftovers from a chicken I roasted the night before I made this soup. You can purchase a cooked rotisserie chicken and then use any leftovers for this soup. If you do use bones or the whole chicken carcass, you can pull them out of the soup after they've simmered for a while, before you add back the pureed veggies, allow the chicken to cool a bit, and then pull the meat from the bones and drop it back into the soup.

What you'll need:
  • 8 cups of liquid (vegetable broth or chicken broth)
  • About 5 carrots, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 large potato, cubed or diced
  • 2 cups of pumpkin, cubed or diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • Cooked chicken, about 2 cups of bite sized pieces.
  • 4-6 tablespoons of unsweetened peanut butter
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (roasted garlic would be even better!)
  • 2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup of noodles (optional) I like thin egg noodles best, but add what you like!
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • salt, to taste

What to do:
  1. Bring your liquid to a boil in a large soup pot.
  2. Add the onions, potatoes, pumpkin and carrots. Turn the heat to medium and allow to cook for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  3. Remove about half of the vegetables from the pot and put them in a food processor or blender. Be careful! The veggies are hot. Do not use a food processor with a fitted lid that seals completely. Steam must be able to escape while you puree.
  4. Add the chicken pieces to the soup pot and leave to simmer.
  5. To the vegetables in the blender/processor, add about a cup of the liquid from the soup, the peanut butter, the garlic and the chopped tomatoes.
  6. Puree vegetable and peanut butter mixture until smooth, adding more liquid if necessary.
  7. Return the pureed mixture to the soup pot and stir until completely incorporated. Your soup should be a bit thicker and a beautiful shade of yellow or orange.
  8. Add noodles.
  9. Simmer for about 10 or 20 minutes longer.
  10. Turn off the heat.
  11. Add the chopped herbs and stir them into the hot soup.
  12. Add the lime juice and stir.
  13. Taste the soup and add salt to taste.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Who Needs Sour Cream?

when you can make an amazing substitute in 5 minutes. No, it's not healthier, but when you're in Sudan and sour cream is nowhere to be found, this will make you forget why you ever wanted it!

What you will need:
  • 1 cup goat cheese or other tart, creamy cheese or a milder cheese like farmer's cheese or cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or another fresh herb if you prefer)

What you should do:
  • Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender.
  • Pulse until combined and then puree until smooth.

Serve atop baked potatoes or as a dip!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Jib's Morning Smoothie

Jibreel doesn't like to eat breakfast some mornings, but he's always willing to have a treat. So this smoothie is his morning treat:

1 frozen banana
5 frozen strawberries
half cup of milk
half cup of
1 tablespoon natural peanut butter

Blend until super smooth and pour into a glass. Enjo

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pumpkin Mulah (stew) with (or without) Lamb

This pumpkin stew was my mother's favorite dish while she was pregnant with me. I love it as well. It's one of the few Sudanese dishes that is sweet and savory at the same time, the sweetness courtesy of the pumpkin and onions, and a little sugar if necessary. The meat (if you choose to add any) will be flavorful and tender as long as you are careful to cook it on a low flame, slowly. Don't be impatient, like I sometimes am, and turn the flame up.

I've been looking for a recipe for this pumpkin mulah for quite some time and a friend of mine recently managed to get this recipe from her mother (while her mother was making it for lunch). So, SHUKRAN, Samiera, Sara's mom. This recipe is much appreciated!

What you need:
  • 3 medium sized onions, diced
  • 2 tbs oil for sauteeing (I like olive oil, but use what you like)
  • 1/2 pound of lamb, chicken, or beef for stewing, cut into bite sized pieces. Chicken can be left on the bone, cut into legs, thighs, etc.
  • 2 cups of pumpkin, cut into (1 inch) cubes
  • 3 tbs tomato paste or 2 cups of peeled, diced tomatoes or a large can of peeled, diced tomatoes
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 tsp kazbarah (I know, I know! But I can't find a translation! Put in whatever spices you like!) ... perhaps coriander! It is coriander - but it's not the fresh green kind. I think it's the seeds, ground. So use that :)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

What to do:
  1. Sautee the onion in a little oil until they're soft/wilted.
  2. Once they're wilted (but not cooked till brown or anything) add just enough water to cover the onions.
  3. Leave on medium heat until the water is evaporated. You want the base to be thick because the pumpkin lets out a lot of water as it cooks! So make sure your base is thick before you add the lamb and pumpkin later.
  4. Add the meat (if desired).
  5. Add the spices.
  6. Stir until the onions have disintegrated, basically until it all melts into a saucy texture.
  7. Add either tomato puree or peeled, diced tomatoes.
  8. Leave it on a low flame until the meat cooks.
  9. Or if there's no meat, add the pumpkin.
  10. Leave on low heat until the pumpkin cooks.
  11. When the pumpkin is cooked, you're done, but feel free to leave simmering for longer to soften the meat and/or pumpkin more.
Tip: If your pumpkin isn't very sweet, add a few tablespoons or more of sugar or honey to sweeten the sauce.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Garlicky Chicken Strips

My son loves chicken nuggets and chicken fingers. I am trying to get away from buying pre-packaged frozen foods, so I made these chicken fingers with actual chicken (no fillers!) My son was very happy with the end result and also helped me prepare them by using a fork to give the chicken pieces their egg baths. He doesn't like gooey things, but if your kids do, have them help with the whole breading process. It's fun!

What you will need:

  • 1 lb. chicken breast, cut into strips or nuggets
  • 3-4 eggs, scrambled, seasoned with 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 cups of breadcrumbs
  • Oil for frying (I use a mixture of corn and olive)
  • Marinade - see recipe below or use any marinade you like

What to do:
Place cut chicken pieces into marinade and mix well to ensure all pieces are coated. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least an hour, or as long as 6 hours.

When you are ready to prepare the chicken for frying:

  1. Place the flour in a tray or pan with sides like a cake pan to limit the mess
  2. Place the breadcrumbs in another tray or pan.
  3. Take a piece of chicken and wipe off some of the excess marinade.
  4. Put the piece of chicken it in the egg, coating completely.
  5. After coating with egg, let the excess egg drip off and coat the piece in flour.
  6. Shake off excess flour and put the chicken back into the egg.
  7. Let excess egg drip off and coat the piece completely with bread crumbs, turning over until the outside of the chicken is coated and feels quite dry.
  8. Repeat until all pieces are coated, working carefully to ensure that the coating stays on the chicken. You can sprinkle extra bread crumbs on the coated pieces to stop them from sticking to each other.
  9. When all pieces are coated, heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a frying pan over a low-medium or medium flame. The oil is ready for frying when a drop of water dropped into it "pops" noisily. Be careful, if you use this method, though. Hot oil hurts! You can, instead, put the end of a wooden utensil into the oil. If the oil bubbles around it, it's hot enough.
  10. Place chicken pieces into the pan carefully, not touching. They should sizzle when you place them in, but gently. If the oil is loud and furious, it's too hot. Turn it down a bit.
  11. When pieces are golden on one side, or a little brown for extra crispiness, turn them to the other side. When the second side is browned, remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Press down gently on the chicken to make sure it feels firm but not hard. If the chicken is too soft, it's probably not cooked through.
  12. When you're done frying, they're ready to serve!

Yogurt and Garlic Marinade:

1 cup of plain yogurt
5 or 6 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
1/2 cup of chopped parsley
juice of one lime

Mix marinade ingredients together.