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Arham Turns Three

Happy THIRD Birthday to my precious Arham. It’s certainly been a fun month-long celebration of your birthday.

From the moment I found out about you, I have identified myself first and foremost as your Mama Arham beta. You are my pride and joy. My happiness. My everything.

SubhanAllah, I can’t believe how fast you are growing up. You amaze me daily with all the new things you do, observe, say and ask.

Each milestone is amazing, and I’ll always be your number one supporter… but to be honest, each one is also a reminder of how fast you are growing.

Watching your logic skills at work or listening to you reason, I can’t help but be in awe… not to mention how much you make me laugh constantly each and every day. You have been able to make me laugh when there was nothing else to laugh about.

Your smile is captivating. Your hugs and kisses are everything. Your “I love you more Mama” melts me instantly.

You are curious, inquisitive, and a quick learner and I pray this never changes. Your amazing memory and ability to story-tell or explain yourself or what happened are beyond your years. I pray Allah SWT keeps you under His infinite protection always and blesses you with the best of this world and the hereafter.

It takes a village. It takes the few but true friends who just get it. It takes understanding co-workers who value the importance of work-life balance. It takes siblings and parents who are always by my side. Ultimately, it takes a Mama’s instincts and love. I don’t know if there is anything as pure, genuine and empowering as a Mama’s love for her child.

Arham beta, inshAllah, I can’t wait to see what year three has in store!

What’s for Dessert: Candy Bars Cars

For Arham’s early birthday party I made these cute cars using M&Ms and Milky Way mini sized chocolate bars.

They were adorable and everyone loved them! Not to mention, they went perfectly with the theme of the party!

What I essentially did was very simple:

  1. I took my M&Ms and organized them so I had four of the same color to make one “car”.
  2. I unwrapped Milky Way chocolate bars, and using a toothpick (or fork), add a very small amount of cake frosting to act as the “glue” where the four tires would go.
  3. Attach the M&Ms onto the Milky Way chocolate bars.
  4. Let the “cars” set before enjoying!

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.

Arham’s Mickey Mouse Themed Second Birthday Party

This past Saturday, we had an early celebration for Arham who turns two mashAllah! SubhanAllah, I can’t even express how fast these past two years have just flown by…

Arham adores Mickey Mouse, so fittingly the theme of Arham’s party was just that.

From the invitation which I created:

Address blacked out…

The Snapchat filter:

The Chocolate Covered Oreos:

The cake:

The banners:

The singing balloon:

The rest of the decorations:

Mickey Mouse Chocolate Covered Oreos

Arham loves Mickey Mouse.

For Arham’s [early] birthday party yesterday, I made homemade chocolate covered Oreos that looked like Mickey.

Arham loved them!

It involved a few steps, but were easy to make!

Here’s how I made them:

I used only these five ingredients:

  • Mini Oreos
  • Oreos
  • Dipping Chocolate
  • Icing
  • Cake Pop Sticks

To make them, what I did was:

    1. Take the mini Oreos, open the halves apart and scrape off the filling.
    2. Take your regular sized Oreo, also separate the halves (so the filling is on one half).
    3. On top of the filling, add icing as a binder for the cake pop stick and mini Oreos.
    4. Add the cake pop stick down the center.
    5. Take two halves of the scraped mini Oreos and place near the top of the Oreo to make Mickey’s ears.
    6. Place the top half of the Oreo (the icing you added earlier will bind everything).
    7. Continue the process for however many you are making.
    8. Refrigerate to let them set.
    9. When ready, melt your dipping chocolate.
    10. Dip your Oreo sticks in chocolate.
    11. Refrigerate again before serving.

I left mine as just chocolate covered Oreos. Of course, you could be as creative as you want – add sprinkles, use icing to decorate on top, make them red, etc.

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.

Arham Turns One

Arham beta, I can’t believe you are ONE!

I can’t believe my baby is a one year old, mashAllah.

A year ago today, at 9:44 AM, you came into this world and forever made mine infinitely better alhumdulillah.

To say anything but that this past year [and the pregnancy] has been anything but a roller coaster ride would be a lie… but it has been worth every second of it for you Arham beta. And to be quite honest, this past year flew by. I truly wish I savored every second of it for a moment longer.

You are, mashAllah, the biggest blessing of my life.

You are perfection, and I can’t imagine my life without you. What you bring to my life, I wish I could put into words for you but the following sentence will have to suffice: you are a pure joy and I am so lucky to call you my beta.

It truly is impossible to put into words the unconditional love a mother feels for her child. Your joy is mine, your sorrow is mine. There is nothing like motherhood, and rightfully so. If there was a way to protect you from the undeniable evil of this world, I would.

Because of how complicated and scary the pregnancy was, and how this past year in general has gone: I have not only cherished each moment, but also tried extra hard to celebrate every milestone, every new thing. Watching you explore your surroundings and learn new things each day have truly been the highlight for me. Watching the world, and our life, through your eyes has brought such an unique perspective that I cherish daily.

From the moment I found out I was expecting you Arham beta, I haven’t stopped thinking of you. Every decision I make, I make with the intention to have your best interest in mind always… and I pray you realize and appreciate that in the future. You have been first on my mind, and my priority, since day one of even knowing I was pregnant with you.

Your wellbeing and happiness is mine.

I may not be a perfect mama, but I am trying my best… and will always try my best to give you everything you deserve and what is rightfully yours. I will protect you from harm’s way with every ounce of me, but sometimes we have to leave things in the hands of Allah SWT.

Don’t ever let anyone wrong you. Don’t ever let anyone decide things for you. Don’t ever take no for an answer. You matter. Your opinion matters. I will always be your biggest cheerleader, but know this as well: I will also always be there to guide you when things get tough so you know what is right and wrong and for anything you need Mama for.  Always do the right thing, no matter how difficult it is. Never go down the wrong path, especially because it was the easy way out. Especially not because others encouraged you to. And definitely not because others were doing so.

Lately, I have thought often about why life gave you the short stick, and how unfair things have been for you because of other people but inshAllah it will be a blessing in disguise as Allah SWT is the best of planners. 

I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you. I pray Allah SWT protects you always, that He guides you in the right direction, gives you health and happiness, that you are a source of joy and happiness to everyone around you, and above all else… that He protects you from the evil (eye).

I am sure every mother feels like their baby is very smart, but I truly believe in your capabilities… and I pray you use your intelligence in a positive way always. You light up a room with your smile, and have from day one, and inshAllah you will light up the world with your talents in the future.

Mama loves you Arham beta!! I have loved you since the moment I found out about you. I will love you always.

Your proud Mama,

What’s for Dinner: [Individual] Donut Cakes

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#donuts … or #cake? #whatsfordessert #whatsfordinner

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For my brother Faraz’s birthday on Friday, I made individual cakes in the shape/form/appearance of a donut… because he loves donuts. I made his favorite kind: chocolate frosted with sprinkles. I left the sprinkles off of mine.

You will need, of course, a [non-stick] donut pan.

Use your favorite  vanilla, yellow, or chocolate cake recipe [store-bought or homemade].
I used a yellow cake with chocolate frosting.

Tip: I have a “cupcake pen” that helps you fill cupcake or muffin and it makes it so easy [without a big mess]. I basically just used it to swirl around each donut hold three times until each was filled two thirds of the way. They will rise!

I baked mine in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes each. As you can imagine, I had to do a number of batches since each donut pan makes six. I think my batter made 24 individual “donuts”.

Once the individual “donut” cakes were out of the oven, I let them cool before frosting. Once they were frosted, I added the sprinkles for the finishing touches.

The possibilities are endless with this technique: use your favorite combination! Such as:

  • chocolate cake with chocolate frosting
  • vanilla cake with vanilla frosting
  • red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting

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.

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!


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.

25th Birthday

A quarter of a century old. That’s me today.

Where has the time gone and why is it going by so fast?! Sheesh. Can it slow down just a bit? I feel like 2013 just started and it’s already more than half over.
Back to the birthday. Did I post here about how I lost a year? Really, I did. For the longest time (or since my last birthday I suppose), I kept thinking I was 23. That’s the answer I gave when people asked me, and that’s the answer I whole-heartedly believed.
Then my brother’s birthday came around in April. And when people asked how old HE was now, I told them 25. After calculating he is 15 months older than me.
Then, he overheard someone asking me. His response? “I’m 26 you goofball!”
Aaah, it couldn’t be. That would mean I am was 24… and worse, about to turn 25 in a few short months (today!) How could I really not know how old I was?!

 

So that brings me to today.

A quarter of a century old. And apparently already effecting my memory. (Just kidding – thank goodness my memory is as sharp as ever. Sometimes too good in remembering unnecessary details).

What’s for Dinner: Yellow Confetti Cake

So the day of Sabih’s graduation party? It also happened to be my cousin Naairah’s birthday! Thursday we head off to Virginia for her graduation ceremony that day followed by her graduation party on Saturday.

For her, I made a confetti cake. I used the same homemade yellow cake base recipe as I did for the basketball cake for Sabih, except I threw in some sprinkles into the batter.

Here’s the end product:

I made a homemade yellow cake as the base [that was absolutely delicious]. Here’s what you need:

  • 2 cups of [all-purpose] flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 stick of [unsalted] butter, softened
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup of [1%] milk
  • [about] 1/4 cup of sprinkles*
*Note: I wasn’t sure how well my decorating sprinkles would work inside the batter for the cake once it baked off — whether they would stay whole and clump, whether the colors would fade, whether it would just ruin the inside of my cake… you get the picture… so I tested out the sprinkles in one cupcake first and it worked wonderfully.

The no oil part in this cake? Love it!

To make the cake:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a [non-stick] 9-inch spring-form pan with non-stick cooking spray for extra precaution.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix together your flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Next, cream your softened butter and sugar together until they are nicely incorporated together. Add in the eggs and vanilla extract and mix until completely combines.
  4. Combine your wet and dry ingredients together into one bowl. Add in the milk. Beat your mixture together until the batter is mixed together and smooth.
  5. Add in the sprinkles. Fold/Mix into the batter.
  6. Transfer into your baking pan. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes back clean.
Tip: Make sure to let the cake cool completely before you attempt to frost. Makes a world of a difference, I’m telling you.
For the frosting? I used store-bought creamy “classic vanilla” frosting today. From the [Oreo] Buttercream Frosting from this post back in April I learned my lesson the hard way: no more homemade frosting UNTIL I get a stand mixer. Why are they so darn expensive?! Would make my life so much easier!

I used this fun decorating kit I bought a few months [called “Wilton’s Dessert Decorator Pro“] ago to decorate the top of the cake. I think my right hand and arm are still sore from it.

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.

What’s for Dinner: Homemade [Vanilla] Cake with [Oreo] Buttercream Frosting

Happy Birthday Faraz! We sure are getting to the age where I don’t even want to say the age anymore!

For Faraz’s [my brother] birthday today, I narrowed down the dessert to something either to do with chocolate chip cookies or Oreos relatively quickly because those are his favorite [cookies]. Ultimately, Oreos won over simply because I came up with more ideas for it.

I made the following cake: Homemade Vanilla Cake with Oreo Buttercream frosting.

I starting off by baking a white [yellow?] cake and butter-cream frosting. I changed up the frosting, however, by mixing in Oreo cookie crumbs [the white cream center portion and all].

For my cake, you need:

  • 10 tablespoons of butter, at room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups of sugar
  • 2 [large] eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 2 and 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cups of milk, room temperature
To make the cake:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray your [non-stick] pans with non-stick cooking spray to be on the extra cautious side.
  2. Cream together your butter and sugar in a [large] mixing bowl until the mixture is light and fluffy [I’d say it takes about 3-4 minutes].
  3. Next, add in your eggs and the vanilla extract. Beat your mixture until everything is combined.
  4. In a separate bowl: combine your flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Alternate adding in the milk and your dry ingredient combination to your wet mixture. So add in some of the flour mixture, and then some of the milk. Keep repeating until everything is incorporated in. Mix just until combined.
  6. Pour the batter evenly into (two) cake pan(s). Bake for about 30 minutes (for 2 nine-inch round cakes) [or until a toothpick, fork, etc. inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean].
  7. Let the cake(s) cool for around 10 minutes before removing them from the pan to a wire rack [and letting them cool completely].

Cupcakes would probably bake for around 18-20 minutes [only fill 2/3 of the way up as they will rise!].

For the frosting you need:
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

To make [just] the buttercream frosting without the Oreos incorporated:

  1. Put the softened butter in a bowl, and cream it on medium to high speed for several minutes.
  2. Reduce the speed of your mixer to low, and gradually add in the powdered sugar. Two cups of powdered sugar was plenty for me, but you may want to taste it and add some more if you want it sweeter.
  3. When all of your powdered sugar has been incorporated, increase the speed to medium before adding in the vanilla extract. Mix well until everything is incorporated.
I needed 2 and a half times the amount listed above to frost in between and around a two layered cake, but it was much easier to do it in batches as I don’t have a stand-mixer… and was using my hand-mixer!.

For frosting the cake for my brother, I wanted to incorporate in Oreos, so what I did was: I took a little frosting [ about 1 cup or so?] and set it aside for later use. Next, for each batch of frosting, I crumbled about half a cup of [normal sized] Oreo cookies, and folded it into the majority of the frosting [not the one I set aside for later use]. The frosting was absolutely delicious as is without the Oreos, but incorporating the Oreos into the frosting itself took the cake over the top.  I wanted to incorporate the Oreos into the cake batter itself as well, but out of a abundance of caution I decided not to experiment with that. I did need a cake for the night, after all.

Tip: You can store any unused frosting in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Just let it come to room temperature before using it again.

To assemble everything:

  1. Tip: Line the bottom of the platter [or whatever you plan to serve the cake in] with parchment paper along just the corners. This will help keep the platter edges neat and clean while you frost. The mess will remain on the parchment paper, which you can easily remove when you are done.
  2. Place one of your cake rounds on the platter and frost the top of the cake with your frosting. Do this liberally, as it will also serve as the binding layer between your two layers of cake!
  3. Put your second layer of cake on top of the first one. Frost the rest of the cake [the sides and the top]. You could choose to just stop here, but what I did next was:
  4. That frosting I set aside earlier? I used that to decorate on top of my Oreo-frosted cake along the top of my cake, leaving some space in between each. Finally, I added a bite-size Oreo in between each of the decorated star on top.
When you are done decorating the cake, don’t forget to pull out the parchment paper along the bottom of the platter! Like I mentioned in this post: it is much easier to have smaller pieces of parchment paper, instead of one large one, when you are ready to remove the parchment paper at the end.


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.