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How to style the perfect Halal Charcuterie Board

The one thing I have always wanted to order at a restaurant is a totally Instagrammable charcuterie board.

It’s almost become a staple menu item at some of the best restaurants in the city and although I can’t order it there, I can certainly put it together at home. With all the cheeseboards I have obsessively collected since being engaged, it’s definitely a sign.

A good board is put together with the best combination of ingredients for a charcuterie which includes cold cuts (obviously!), cheese, spreads, nuts, fruits, veggies, crackers and bread. The actual definition of charcuterie is ‘a collection of cold cut meats‘, and with the fast-paced progress of the North American halal meat industry, this couldn’t be a better time to share how to make this perfect charcuterie board.

Ready to get started? Below a full breakdown on how to craft the perfect halal charcuterie board. Flip to page 36 of the Summer 2017 issue of Halal Foodie Magazine for the full breakdown. Pin this handy guide on How to Charcuterie for later so you can finally accomplish those #PinterestGoals!

Like this article? Keep up on my fun foodie and DIY adventures over on Instagram!

 

 

 

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How to style the perfect Charcuterie Board

 

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This year’s Halal Food Fest must-eats!

With its 5th (!!) annual event starting up this weekend, Halal Food Fest in Toronto has a jam-packed event that you won’t want to miss! I was lucky to attend the media preview this past week and sample some of the delicious eats you can find within Sample City. Keep reading to get an inside scoop on what you’ll want to make sure you see and eat this weekend!

This year’s event has an expanded food section, Canada 150 celebrations and lots of new sponsors, including IKEA Canada! The entertainment line-up is jam-packed with well-known performers, chefs, and competitions. This year, Halal Food Fest has also expanded their food section to help you discover more halal dining options within the GTA!

Some of the entertainment I am most excited for include a Kitchen Basics segment from Chef Russel Auckbaraullee (who I got to see!), Macaron-Making lessons from Chef Kaif Khan and the Nasheed performance by Khāled Siddīq.  To see the full schedule, click here.

Now for the part you’ve been waiting for – the food! Listed below are some of my fave picks that I will be sure not to miss this year. Get your tickets in advance online to avoid the line-up and remember to grab your copy of the Halal Foodie Magazine.

P.S. Bookmark page 36 for my article!

Eat: 5 quick Iftar Go-Tos

With the last ten days of the holy month upon us (that’s right!), it’s crucial to spend your time catching up your prayers, reading the Quran, and still making time to prepare for Eid. All while continuing on with the regular day-to-day stuff. 

I don’t know about you guys, but my busiest time of the day is right before Iftar. It’s also the one time in the day we should be the most focused on reflecting and praying. With so much packed into the final days of Ramadan, it’s a good idea to try and prep ahead of time for the rest of your Iftar meals. But, as amazing as that sounds, sometimes it’s just not realistic. That’s exactly why I am sharing my favourite go-to quick fixes for a fast and delicious iftar meal. Hopefully, this can let you focus on all the other more important tasks at hand.

 

1. Order-in:

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This is the first and most obvious choice for me. When ordering is as simple as an app and endless all the possibility of choice, it’s really my first go-to. I’ve been using Foodora this Ramadan and have gotten a delicious Iftar exactly on time – no work required! This makes it so easy to focus on prayers without having to worry about going back into the kitchen to check on the food. Because participating restaurants also give you two bottles of Happy Water and Masa Dates, it’s a direct living room to dining room situation. Skip the kitchen!  The best thing I ordered this month was Jerk Chicken with rice, two beef patties, and a Jerk Chicken kebab. I tossed in two drinks and my iftar was good to go! All I had to do was place everything on the table (& really, you could forego the plates!). The app is so easy to use and you can filter by attribute so you’re only seeing halal options.  With so many choices – it’s a no-brainer. Why not give it a shot tonight? Click here so that you can get $10 off your first order! 

 

2. Use a pre-made sauce with pasta

Quick and easy pasta for iftar

Call me plain-Jane but sometimes I love the simplicity of some quick and easy pasta. Although for me pasta is a bit of a treat, something I save for eating out, it’s the easiest go-to when I have skipped grocery shopping to go to the movies instead 🙈 🙈 🙈. It’s super quick and is as simple as boiling your favourite pasta (white or brown), tossing in some pre-made pasta sauce and giving it a good mix. I usually add in some chilies or chili flakes and salami or even garlic for more flavour. This can be as easy or complicated as you want. 

 

3. Have a soup or a salad 

Soup for iftar

This is super easy, especially if you already have canned soup on hand. It’s also a good choice if you want to go with something lighter than a pasta. If you have some veggies on hand, toss together a quick salad with your soup so that you have something a bit more substantial. Add high-fat veggies to your salad such as avocado or even some nuts to keep you full until your post-Taraweeh snack (don’t kid yourself, we all do it!)

 

4. Pre-marinated fish

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I love this option since it’s a healthy one! I always keep some marinated salmon in the freezer for those nights I really don’t want to cook. It’s a good way to avoid tossing a handful samosas into the fryer instead of eating well! You can find some great options at your local grocery store and all you’ve got to do is pop it into the oven!

5. Make a leftovers sandwich

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During the month of giving, there will be days you’ve cooked up a storm when someone shows up at your door with full iftar. I usually freeze one of them since there is no way I can even eat that much after all that fasting. This would be the time to recall what you’ve got in your freezer and make use of it! Grab two slices of some really good bread, add some toppings, sauces, cheese and a protein in between and you’re good to go!

What are some of your go-to quick fixes during Ramadan? Let me know in the comments below!

See what I’m cooking up on my Instagram stories or follow me on Twitter and Facebook to stay up-to-date with the blog!

Happy eating + praying!

5 QUICK IFTAR GO-TOS

Eat: Experience Ramadan with Iftar Host

If you’ve been on Facebook recently, you may have seen a link circulating from Iftar Host (now referred to as Experience Ramadan). As soon as I saw it, I signed up right away with no hesitation. The concept seemed simple and intriguing – be a host or attend an Iftar. It’s your choice and people of all backgrounds are welcome.

This simple concept of breaking bread together is the best way to get to know new people, encourage friendships and share your cultures with one another. I couldn’t wait to open my door and let my new friends Experience Ramadan.

Iftar host, #ExperienceRamadan2017, muslim blogger Toronto, muslim, ramadan

The Table is set!

I was so excited when I got the email that I was matched! Iftar Host asks to fill in a form with a few things that can help them match you to the right people. We put in our ages, opted to host two people and that was it! I believe the form is a little more robust now as many more people are likely signing up and matching can be more accurate with more info. We were introduced via email and then took it from there to discuss timings, dates and share the location. Both parties were equally as excited to be a part of this.

Hosting a dinner is really fun for me. I loved being able to choose a meaningful menu, setting the table for the iftar dinner and meeting new people! Below I’ve shared a run-down of the evening and what you can expect if you decide to host!

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Our new friends Sam & Mike!

I signed up on Sunday night and was matched early on Monday. After exchanging a few emails, we agreed to an 8 p.m. arrival on a Friday. We clarified that iftar time was closer to 9 p.m. just to make sure they were not surprised by the late dinner.

We chose to go with 8 p.m. since this would give us enough time to get to know them before Iftar time without having too much time without any food to keep us going! On the day of the dinner, as the clock moved closer to 8 p.m., I started to get a little nervous on whether or not they would show up. I had just prepared all this food and only texted to confirm an hour before they were meant to arrive. Both V and I were nervous and excited – this was going to be a unique night.

When our guests arrived, they so kindly brought with them a beautiful bouquet of flowers which was such a pleasant gesture. We were off to a good start! We asked how they found out about the program and were given a story similar to our own. The conversation started to flow right away and before we knew it, we were headed to the dining table.

One thing I always make sure to do when hosting a dinner party is to have everything ready to go and laid out. I prepared all the food in advance and placed it in the oven at the perfect time. The table was set earlier and all the dishes I would be using throughout dinner were placed on my counter ready to go for the next dish.

We started by explaining to them how sacred the time before the Iftar is, a time we used to reflect and make Du’a. They asked how we knew what time to open our fast and we shared that date are based on the lunar calendar and prayer times surround dusk and sunset. Once it was time to eat we offered them dates, sharing that this was the way fasts were open, followed by water.

After this, we started eating and of course, talking – a lot. It was so great to be matched with another couple who we could speak so easily with. Conversation ranged from travel to politics, gardening to rock climbing and of course, food!

Our menu for this Iftar dinner included Dates, Haleem, Falooda, Savory Pastries, and a main dish of a Baked Pasta. For dessert, we had some flourless dark chocolate cake with ice cream. Each dish was chosen strategically and we shared why these items were generally on iftar menus in our culture – especially the Haleem and Falooda.

After dinner, we moved to the living room and found ourselves connecting on everything under the sun. When guests leave as late as 1 a.m., you know it’s been a great time!

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Dates, Falooda and some delicious pasta! for Iftar

This was one of the most unique experiences I’ve had. We will be joining our new friends soon for another dinner and likely a session or two of rock climbing! We would definitely do it again and hope more people can Experience Ramadan.

Is this something you would try out? Want to hear more about it? Read my husband’s review of Experience Ramadan? Head on over to his blog!

I hope this post was helpful! I am happy to answer any questions anyone might have either in the comments below or on my social channels. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Look out for my next Ramadan post later this week Inshallah! Hint – It’s food based!

Ramadan, ramadan 2017, iftar, muslim

We recently hosted another couple via Experience Ramadan and Iftar Host for Ramadan 2017

Eat: Easy Microwave Granola

Hello all!

It’s no easy feat to write about food while fasting and I am sure you can all agree. I did, however, have to share this delicious recipe I tried out last night before Iftaar. For some reason, I just love watching recipes and food videos while fasting, not sure why but I just do!

Usually when I watch these videos, I end up trying a few things out, just because I have the time to. A great thing about that is that I end up with a lot of food for Iftaar and usually end up having it over a few days. This makes prep very easy and gives more time to doing what we’re meant to do during the Holy Month of Ramadan – pray.

This year, Ramadan in Toronto has been particularity difficult – with fasts as long as 17 hours! Anyway, I had a lot of fun making some delicious things yesterday, including some beef kebab skewers, a flour-less cake and delicious (and easy) granola! I loved how it turned out. I did swap out some ingredients to use what I already had on hand. I used Agave for my sweetener and a combination of rolled oats, steel cut oats, chopped almonds and unsweetened chocolate (added after it was cool) and a drizzle of honey on top once it was ready and cooled.

 

I got the recipe from Gemma Stafford of Bigger Bolder Baking – one of my fave cooking channels on YouTube. She has popular meals that are really easy to make. This microwave granola was from the video below. I will definitely be trying and sharing results of more things I make in the microwave.

I would love to see what you make in your microwave using these fab recipes. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook to get updates on blog posts and other things I am making/doing!

 Hope you enjoyed!

Halal-on-the-Go to the rescue!

Well, the wedding is officially a week away and I couldn’t be more excited (and stressed/nervous and so on! It’s been a great experience going through this process and maybe one day wedding planning will excite me again, but right now I’m a teeeensy but exhausted and really just want to move into my new place and start working my decorating project. Yes, I will always need to be on the go and busy to be me! 
The one thing that I have learnt through this process is to always be prepared in advance. If there are things that can be done before, just get them out of the way. Why wait until the 11th hour? You’ll be plenty busy and have way too many unexpected things pop up out of nowhere, things you just didn’t expect! 
A little over a month ago, a family member sprained their ankle and while it’s still healing, AH it’s getting much better. I also had lots to work back and forth with my caterer, decorator, planner, venue and everyone in my family – it’s been pretty crazy! And with all of that, I was simultaneously moving into a new apartment, setting it up to be ready for next weekend and getting a bunch of paperwork setup for that. So to say I was busy, is just hitting the surface. 
A big thing that I always do is prep in advance for my week (since work isn’t really optional!) is to meal plan. When it comes to crazy busy times it’s harder to want to spend time making food when you can just buy some. With trying to eat healthy and work out all during wedding season, you’ve got to really plan everything out. That’s where these amazing chicken pies come in! 
Honestly when I was asked to give them a try, I opened my arms with a giant sigh of relief! Getting a filling meal in a one minute microwave pack was a lifesaver in these last few weeks. I kept a few packs at the office and had some at my new apartment and obviously a bunch at home. The best part was that everyone loves them (Including bridesmaids who’ve been dragged to your house for more DIY projects….). With healthy options and white meat, it really was the best part of this crazy time. 
Eating fast, halal, healthy food isn’t always possible and Mortimer’s Halal Kitchen made it really easy to do everything I needed to without worrying about food. You can find these delicious Halal-on-the-Go pies at your local FreshCo, Sobeys and Longos in the meat department. If they don’t carry them, ask them to order them in! Don’t forget to like their Facebook page to keep up with new products and learn more about the current ones! 
Want to try some on me? Just follow the instructions on my Instagram post to enter to win a $50 grocery card from Sobeys. 
Good Luck! 

Eat: 2016 Cookie Swap

I thought really hard about hosting a cookie swap this year as I’ve been extremely swamped with so much going on at work, with the wedding, I am back in school etc. I decided not to forego it this year because I really do love doing it and so do all of my friends. Compared to last year, this one was pretty small but I am quite happy with the results – especially because it did not take me as much work as it has in the past.

Generally, I send an email out (with a fancy graphic/digital card) to a select group of friends to ask who wants to participate, what dates work etc. After this, I share a google doc with a form for everyone to fill in what they will be making so that we don’t have duplicate. I also have them email me their recipes so I can create a book for them to go home with. This year I did none of that, save for the email to ask who would be able to make it. The best way to organize a cookie swap usually involves all these steps but it had to be quick this time! I did not even email everyone until really late in the month and asked if they could attend within two given dates. Although not everyone could make it because of this, I had a great time, ate lots of sweets and still got plenty of cookies to share.

I took lots of photos for some great Cookie Swap inspiration. This year, I got the tags and labels from Confetti Sunshine’s  printable and customized them to work with what I needed.

Let me know what you think!

 

Eat: The bottomless pit of Foodie videos

You know that moment where you get onto YouTube to watch one tutorial on how to do just one quick thing but end up in the black hole of video-watching? Well that’s me, all. the. time. I can’t stop watching videos or going through an entire channel if I come across awesome food videos.
Watching food videos mesmerizes me, I get all these ideas of all the possibilities of what I can make, what amazing dinners I could have and I just automatically imagine myself calmly chopping away in the kitchen with a beautiful dinner setup, awaiting my guests as I plate immaculate looking dishes. I almost immediately I start making a list of every ingredient and utensil used in the video and take note the garnishes and plating style. Even as I read this, I feel like Becky Bloomwood from Shopaholic – like that time she went all nuts buying dishes, utensils, sauces and spices to make a fab dinner to save money but ended up being unable to cook and spent more money than she would have if she just continued to buy food instead! Call me crazy, but I am still aiming to do this pretty often as soon as I move into my new place. I hope I can cook alright!
So back to where I was – Back on YouTube, I was browsing away until I saw an ad on my page for the PC (President’s Choice) Insider’s Collection videos. I love PC products – especially the black label of higher end products. They only further my imagination of cooking extravagant meals for dinner parties. I almost instantly wanted drive down the street to my local Loblaw store, hit up the shelves and come home with potential in a shopping bag. 
It’s not like I can’t cook – I just don’t know if I tend to go overboard on my planning phase and realize too late that I have aimed too high….(most of the time that’s the case). But if you know me well enough, then you know I love throwing dinner parties, hosting friends and entertaining. This stuff was made for me and I don’t think I’ll ever get out of that habit!
My next thing is to attempt some of the dishes I saw on the PC YouTube channel. You are also welcome to pretend that my dinners will look exactly like these! Here are some of my favorite ones that I hope to recreate!
 Let me know what you think you would try making from these videos.

Paper, Plants and Provisions

Just as we hit the halfway point of Ramadan, I finally found some time to write a blog post, host a dinner and make it my kinda fancy.

I called my friends over for a small iftaar and realized that I enjoy hosting smaller groups of people now in comparison to when I was much younger and called everyone I even kind of knew to come over to my place. That was also when I was completely okay with a messy bed and tons of people cramped in a room — glad that phase is long gone.

Here’s a look at how I served up a delicious meal, made a beautiful table scape and it took less than two hours to put it all together.

The Tablescape: I used scrapbook paper as placemats. This helped keep them all a little different, yet match in terms of colour scheme at the same time. I used the Dear Lizzy Neapolitan collection from American Crafts – one of my favourite lines of paper.

I cut out mason jars from another sheet of the same collection and used that as simple place cards. These stood up with clothing pegs and I hand-stamped names for each person. They were a definite hit. Everyone loved them!

I added to the mason jar love by putting candles into mini jars across the table, incorporated my mason jar potted mint into the centrepiece and used my 1920’s Ball Mason jar as a vase for my flowers. I clustered my succulents onto a lazy Susan with the other elements and it looked great!

On the Menu: For the main, I made a delicious and easy baked spaghetti dish with whole grain pasta, ground beef, low fat ricotta, skim mozzarella and parmesan. I will include the recipe after the break.

For the apps, we had spicy hummus with pita and home made lavash (followed this recipe), whole grain bread & butter and puffed chicken pastries. Everyone drank San Pellegrino Limonata (my fave!) and some Bamboozled ice tea from David’s Tea. We finished off with some delicious mousse desserts.

 

Baked Spaghetti:

8oz cooked whole wheat spaghetti

2 tablespoons of butter OR margarine1 cup grated Parmesan cheese – divided1 tub of low fat ricotta cheese 1 lb ground beef – browned1 can spaghetti sauce250g skim mozzarella cheese — shredded for top layer
Spices and/or herbs of choice. I used dried basil, salt and chilli flakes 


Directions:1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking tray with foil.2.  Add butter to hot cooked spaghetti and stir until butter melts and coats spaghetti.  Add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese; stir to coat.  

3. Add spaghetti to a foil-lined pan in an even layer.  
4. Spread ricotta cheese over spaghetti and sprinkle it with half of the remaining Parmesan cheese.  
5. Brown ground beef and burn away any water. Add pasta sauce, spices, salt and herbs. Mix well and let it cook for a bit on Medium. 
6. Evenly spoon it as the next layer on top of the cheese.  
7. Top with mozzarella cheese and remaining Parmesan cheese.
8.  Cover with foil — try to leave some space so the cheese does not stick and bake for 30 minutes. 
9. Remove foil cover and continue baking 15 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!