#TeamPapa

It’s been a year, today, since our beloved Papa left us for a better place and it hasn’t gotten easier. I don’t know if it ever will.

A year ago, when I saw him at the funeral home after his death, one of the first thoughts that entered my mind and remains to this day was how tall he was. All my life, because of his age, he was always hunched over a little and I didn’t even realize how tall he truly was.

I could go on and on about my Papa and I love anytime anyone brings up Papa in conversation.

He loved reading. The Qu’ran especially. And did so daily without fail. 

Even when dementia overtook him, subhanAllah, even just hearing the words of the Qu’ran calmed him and brought peace to his mind.

He loved Kit Kats.

He loved Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. Don’t ever disturb him from 7 PM to 8 PM. Without a doubt, it’s how my family and I started watching and still watch to this day. Arham, too, is already a fan.

He loved spending time with us just as much as we loved spending time with him. His presence brought a joy that I can’t describe. I loved loved loved spending any time I could with him and cherished the moments. My NJ cousins knew that if my Papa was over, all my other plans would be cancelled.

He loved us all unconditionally. I have never met anyone more genuine than my Papa, and I don’t say that in a biased granddaughter way. I created the #TeamPapa hashtag several years ago, and it’s stuck within our family. My cousin made us matching shirts with it as well.

When I was pregnant with Arham, because of his dementia we didn’t tell Papa but, subhanAllah, he would ask on the phone about the baby. When I went to visit him while pregnant, he asked where was the baby, why is the baby crying in the other room. Even with his dementia overtaking him, he still had an intuition somehow.

Although Arham got to meet him, I wish he got to grow up around Papa and see for himself who Papa was. Or why I am so fond of him. Why he brought me such joy and why his memories still bring me joy, why the memories are so strong and always positive toned.

He brought so much joy in my life, I can’t even describe it. It’s just not possible to put into words who he is for me and how much I miss his presence.

I pray Allah SWT grants him the highest place in jannat. I pray I can carry his legacy forward by being the best version of myself and make him proud. I pray I raise Arham to be the kind of person that Papa was.

 

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What’s for Dinner: Pizza Ring

So a few days ago, on Monday, I made this Pizza Ring.

It was very easy to make, took very few ingredients, and was a quick meal.

What I used:

  • 2 cans of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  • Marinara Sauce
  • Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • Garlic Powder
  • Oregano

How I made it:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line your baking day with parchment paper… so the pizza ring doesn’t stick and it’s easy cleanup!
  2. Unroll the crescent rolls, and keeping the two triangle pairs in tact… separate the rectangle pairs. Using two boxes, you should have 8 pairs.
  3. Line 4 of the rectangle pairs across one another so it creates a + sign… leaving a square gap in the middle. Add the remaining four rectangles to make a ring shape, overlapping the crescent rectangles.
  4. Add marinara sauce and Mozarella cheese to the dough near the middle. Add garlic powder and oregano.
  5. Fold over your crescents to create a folded ring.
  6. Add garlic powder and oregano on top.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes in your preheated oven. Serve warm!

Like my recipes? Click the below link to purchase my cookbook “What’s for Dinner”:

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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What’s for Dinner: Spicy Chicken Tenders

It was a snowy and cold day today, so for dinner today: I made spicy chicken tenders.  Easy, delicious, warm and comforting! They are kid friendly, but let’s be honest — who doesn’t like chicken tenders when they look and taste something like this??

What I used:

  • Boneless Chicken breasts
  • My standard seasoning mix: salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, and garlic powder.
  • [Whole] Milk
  • [Pete’s] hot sauce
  • Eggs
  • Flour
  • Oil, for frying

How I made it:

  1. I had several large pieces of thinned boneless chicken breast, so what I did was I cut them all to a chicken tender size. Long and thin pieces of meat.
  2. To your chicken, add your seasonings – salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper and garlic powder.
  3. Add in milk and eggs before adding in about one cup of hot sauce. I used this amount and you could taste the heat, but it was very tamed — so adjust based on your liking.
  4. In a ziploc bag [for easy clean up], add your flour. To your flour, add in the same seasonings as above – salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper and garlic powder. Shake well to combine.
  5. In batches, transfer your chicken batter into the ziploc bag with the seasoned flour. Shake well to combine.
  6. Fry your tenders, in batches, until they are golden brown.

Tip: I get asked a lot how I get the crispy and crunchy on the end product so perfectly, and my guess would be ziploc should get the credit for it… that technique coats really well — whether it be chicken, seafood, or whatever you are working with.

I have a few variations on french fries, that would work perfect with these chicken tenders, that you can find my clicking here and scrolling down close to the bottom under Side Dishes!

Like my recipes? Click the below link to purchase my cookbook “What’s for Dinner”:

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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What’s for Dinner: Toffee Cheesecake with Caramel

My brothers and I hosted a Superbowl party, yesterday, for some of our cousins.

For dessert? I made another variation of a cheesecake: this time, I made a Toffee Cheesecake. If there is any doubt I love cheesecakes, check the different variations I have made and posted the recipes of on here

What I used:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons of [unsalted] butter, melted
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 (14 ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 8 ounce bag of Toffee bits
  • 1 tablespoon of All-Purpose flour
  • Caramel

How I made it:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine the butter and graham crackers. Press the mixture into the bottom [and across the lower sides if you would like] of your springform pan to form the crust.
  3. Next, in a large bowl, beat your cream cheese until it is smooth. Add in the condensed milk and beat the mixture well [until it is evenly incorporated].
  4. Next, add in the eggs and vanilla extract. Do not over beat the mixture, just enough until your mixture is smooth.
  5. Coat your toffee bits with the tablespoon of flour. Why you ask? Read my tip down below why I do this.
  6. Fold in about one cup of the toffee bits into the cheesecake batter.
  7. Pour your cheesecake batter over your graham cracker based crust.
  8. Sprinkle the top with the remaining toffee bits.
  9. Bake for 60-70 minutes.
  10. Let the cheesecake cool, and then either put the Caramel on top like I did… or drizzle on each individual piece as serving.

Tip: In order to make sure the toffee doesn’t sink to the bottom, coat your toffee with a little bit of All-Purpose flourTrust me, newbie me had chocolate chips sink to the bottom once… but I turned it into a positive thing by having an extra layer of chocolate… who doesn’t like chocolate!

Like my recipes? Click the below link to purchase my cookbook “What’s for Dinner”:

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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What’s for Dinner? The Book Edition

Getting a copy of my published recipe cook “What’s for Dinner? was an amazing feeling.

Ayaz and Faraz had been telling me for several years to publish it, and I actually had most of the work done and saved from a few years ago. So when I decided to go for it, the process was relatively quick and easy for me.

If you follow me on pretty much any social media, you will see that first and foremost I always describe myself as Arham’s Mama. It is who I am and it is what makes me most proud and happiest. This book is no different. It’s for him. I want Arham to know I’ll always be his number one fan in anything he wants to do [as long as it’s in good faith].

Have you picked up your copy of ‘What’s for Dinner?. I’d love to hear feedback. 

Have you tried any of the recipesLet me know what you think!

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“What’s for Dinner” is Published

Published!

I’m happy to say that my [first] book of a series of recipes is published and can be found by clicking here.

It is also available directly from Amazon (click here for Amazon link).

The above links I mentioned all are physical copies of the book (paperback), but if you prefer digital books, it is also available as a digital book on the Kindle if you click here.

It is also available as a paperback Amazon Europe too (click here for the Amazon Europe link).

And click here for the Kindle version for Europe.

Thank you everyone for your words of encouragement and support thus far.

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First, He Came for the Muslims

“If you force Muslims to register, we will all register as Muslims” said Feminist icon Gloria Steinem.
 
I stand ready to register as Muslim in  said the Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
 
“I stand ready to register as a Muslim in solidarity if it comes to that” said actress Mayim Bialik.
 
I don’t know if it is, somehow, suppose to bring comfort or relief to Muslims in this nation for the support. And perhaps, on the surface, it may very well seem to be.
 
But it’s not.
 
It’s not because this isn’t the first time this has happened in our nation. No I’m not talking about the Japanese internment.
 
The year was 2002. The program was called NSEERS. National Security Entry-Exit Registration System
 
What was it, you ask? Essentially, it required non-citizens, non-residents in the US already and those entering the United States from certain countries, predominantly Muslim countries of course, to register in the U.S., undergo more thorough interrogation and be fingerprinted. The only country on that list that wasn’t predominantly Muslim was North Korea.
 
Who stood up for Muslims then? Which non-Muslims signed up as Muslims then as an act of defiance? And even if they did, what difference would it have made?
 
We don’t need just words of solidarity. We need action. Otherwise, just as we passively let him become POTUS, we will start to face deplorable consequences such as this Muslim registry.
 
What’s next? Segregated water fountains?  Separate seating on public transit for people of color?
 
First, he is coming for the Muslims. But the question is, will it end there? Who will be next? 
 
We must stand up and act. Contact your congress member. Call your senator. 

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#NotMyPresident… but wait? He is.

I didn’t watch the inauguration. If you know what a news and political junkies we are in this house, this was big.

News are big in our house. Domestic and international. Politics are discussed profusely.

Throughout the day, there are texts, news alerts and tweets sent among our household group text. We watch the news together nightly.

The first inauguration I can remember watching with full memory is of George Bush. I have watched every one since. I know little tidbits like the oath is always at noon and other things that do nothing for my personal gain.

But I couldn’t watch today.

This whole election cycle, I feel we sat around passively thinking it was not possible to elect such a candidate and *news flash alert* he now holds the office. I don’t know if it says more about the type of people who support him or more about the type of people who passively allowed this to happen.

A man who lashes out on twitter over minute things. Doesn’t he, or should he, have better things to do? You know… like trying to figure out what this presidency entails exactly??

A man who probably has a contradictory statement for each one he has made. Probably on his own Twitter account nonetheless.

A man who is equal about discrimination against all. A racist, sexist, ableist, a bigot.

A man who lacks the basic understanding of what this position requires suddenly holds the power and control over so many things. Let’s not even start with the nuclear codes.

His own campaign staff didn’t/couldn’t trust him with his own twitter handle leading up to the election, need I remind you, but we are suppose to trust him as the POTUS?

Where do we stand, as a nation, now?

How much weaker are we as a nation in the eyes of countries around the globe?

Was it a publicity stunt for him? Perhaps. Are we suppose to wait around holding our breaths what’s to come in the next four years? No. Way.

Popular hashtags trending on twitter include #NotMyPresident and #OptOut. But you know what? Whether we like it or not, the reality is that he is now our president. And we certainly can’t just opt out.

I tried to convince myself post-election that we have to give him the benefit of the doubt. That rooting for his failure is essentially rooting for our own demise. But you know what? No. No we don’t have to. And we certainly shouldn’t.

Enough of the “how bad can it get?” and “what worse could happen?”. All logic and common sense has gone out the window. Anything and everything is suddenly fair game and quite the possibility.

As a matter of fact, it suddenly got just that more important to be proactive and speak up for what is right and what we believe in and make our voices be heard and be heard and hold those in office accountable. Not be silenced or sit passively any longer.

One of my biggest regrets will be that I wasn’t active in the election campaign this go around like I was during the Obama campaigns.

It starts small. It starts local. I urge everyone to become more involved in their own communities.

We can’t change what happened, but we certainly can have a lot to say about what is happening and what happens in the next four years.

His slogan may be “Make America Great Again”, and we certainly need to… but he certainly isn’t the one to lead our nation to do so.

Update: This can also be found here.

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The Staff at SPUH

There is absolutely no worse feeling than your baby being unwell and you can’t take away their pain. For the past seven days we have either been at the pediatrician, at the hospital, or both. These past seven days have been exhausting, physically and emotionally. 

When Arham woke up ill Friday, and wouldn’t improve as the day went on, plus a doctor’s visit later… I knew I had to take him to the ER. I thought I was going in just so he would feel better with some IV fluids.

Little did I know what that night would have in store for us. Or even the next few days that followed for that matter.

To be quite honest, I was dreading taking him to the hospital remembering how painful it was (physically) for Arham when he was six weeks old and hospitalized and how painful it was (emotionally) for me. It’s traumatic and something I  can’t get it out of my mind.

Which brings me to what led me to start writing today:

The staff at Saint Peter’s University Hospital? Godsend. Especially the nurses.

The level of care [and comfort] they provided for not just my precious Arham, but my parents and I during the stay? It’s unforgettable. It’s something I’ll never forget and I can’t begin to express how grateful I am.

From explaining what I didn’t understand multiple times, to giving me time to process the information.

From being available for questions to continuously asking if I (or we) needed anything.

From listening to and addressing my concerns to allowing my parents to stay and be in the room with me when not typically allowed.

From using a flashlight instead of turning the lights on in the middle of the night to prevent disturbing my finally sleeping 15 month old to coming in later to try again to not disturb my child.

From understanding my fears and hesitation to providing any sort of help they could.

From calming my fears to reminding me prayers can change everything.

The list is endless, just as my appreciation towards them is.

It is an innate reaction to complain and not forget when things don’t go wrong, but we need to express appreciation when things go right just the same.

On a side note: I, myself, ended up in the ER one night while Arham was hospitalized — and they were so accommodating. A typical ER visit is hours long. They had me out within three hours so I could go back up to the pediatric ward to be with Arham and each of Arham’s nurses were just as concerned about me as they were of Arham.

Being completely honest, even though I always like to be safe rather than sorry, I wasn’t sure why they were putting my baby through excessive tests that wouldn’t help or weren’t even needed on that Friday.

He just had a terrible stomach virus I thought

THIS is why I was hesitating bringing my baby I thought.

It may very well have saved his life.

Let me tell you, it’s not comforting when multiple people are rushed into the room, each trying to confirm the diagnosis… and in mere minutes a plan of action is put into place and surgery team is prepped for backup. Neither is when you are told it’s “life threatening”.

It was a scary situation, and what could have been is too scary to even think about, but not for even a second did I doubt the level of care Arham was being given.

The level of response once the problem was spotted was absolutely amazing and that may very well have made the difference. I will, forever, be grateful towards the staff at SPUH not for just this stay — but for what they do always.

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Some Day

Earlier this month, one morning, Arham woke up quite content. He got up, sat up in his crib and started playing. I checked on him a few times, he glanced at me before continuing to play. I should have been ecstatic, right?

So why did I feel sad instead?

It got me thinking…

Some day he won’t need me to feed him. Or even prepare his bottle.

Some day he won’t need me to change his clothes. Or even his diapers.

Some day he won’t need me to give him a bath.

Some day he won’t need me to fall asleep.

Some day he won’t wake up crying in the middle of the night looking for me.

Some day he won’t want to play peek a boo with me.

Some day he won’t want to cuddle so tightly.

Some day he won’t want me to kiss and hug him so many times daily.

Some day he won’t sit with me so patiently while reading through picture books.

Some day it will be him teaching me new things, not the other way around like it is right now.

Some day there won’t be an excited welcoming committee each time I enter the room.

Some day. Not today.

Today? Today is a different story and I will savor every moment of it.

He is mine to spoil. He is mine to love. He is mine to teach right from wrong.

He is the biggest blessing of my life.

He is fifteen months old today mashAllah… and if the first fifteen months are any indication, time flies by.

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