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Chicken Caesar Salad with Homemade Buttermilk Dressing

Potluck parties are nice, but just the word ‘potluck’ is a bit unappealing to some people who say that the idea of hoping to be ‘lucky’ about what ends up at a dinner where everyone brings a dish is more risk than they’d like to take with regards to their food. Jokes abound about this concept of communal eating, but no doubt it’s a common way of gathering and eating and can be a great way to experience variety, whether the party is big or small.

Cuban Sandwiches and a Table Spread at a Small Cuban-Inspired Iftar Dinner

When I was a college student (won’t say how long ago that was), I enjoyed potluck parties so much because it was a great way for everyone to have home-cooked meals from a small apartment dining room table that looked like a beautiful international buffet. My university had a large international student population, some of whom became good friends, so I was able to try things that I don’t even have the opportunity to eat now: South American specialties from places like Columbia, Peru, and Ecuador; Middle Eastern specialties from small villages, Malaysian curries, Indonesian satays, Indian sweets and so much more.

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Date and Walnut Tart

Dates are also the perfect baking fruit- they freeze well, they don’t make your baking products soggy and they add just the right about of sweetness to a dessert. Below is a deliciously simple tart recipe adapted from one of my favorite and most-used cookbooks, Mediterranean: A Taste of the Sun in Over 150 Recipes by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow.

The original recipe calls for a few things I didn’t have or didn’t have time to make, such as the homemade pastry dough. Instead, I buy a good quality one with very few ingredients, all of them natural and healthy and then freeze the crust for times like these.

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Homemade Chappati

I’ve been really blessed to meet so many amazing people since I started this blog. People are happy to share their cooking ideas and recipes all the time and more often than ever does the topic of conversation with complete strangers, new and old friends and my family turn to healthy food, ethnic cuisine and just getting back to basics when it comes to bringing everyone around the table for a meal to remember.

I was invited to the home of a Pakistani family who lives in the Chicago suburbs so that I could learn and share with you how to make homemade roti, or bread, also known as chappati.  Chappati is an unleavened flat bread that is dry cooked over flame and not stuffed or layered with ghee (clarified butter) like the another popular Indian-style flat bread called paratha.

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Cherry-Strawberry Frozen Juice

Contrary to what might be popular belief, not every Muslim family is a large one. There are people all over the world, especially in the U.S. who live far away from extended family whether overseas or across the country. There are those new to Islam who will be breaking the fast alone or with just one other person (i.e. couples, students, singles, etc.) during Ramadan.

If you’re one of those people, why not make iftar special (without all the fuss), even if it’s a small one?

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Summer Squash Soup

I’m a huge fan of a hearty bowl of soup. I love to select, chop and see the change in texture of fresh, seasonal vegetables as I take them from market to my favorite Dutch oven. I love the smells that permeate my home from the dried or fresh herbs I’ve added. I love that soup can feed many people just by adding a little water and a few more herbs, a pinch of salt. There’s indeed much blessing in that.

Not everyone shares  my same passion for soup. There are a few around here that simply want a cup, not a bowl, of soup. They want to save room for meat, rice, pasta or anything else but all that hot liquid. Especially in the very hot summer.

During Ramadan, however, I get my way.

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Kitchen Efficiency During Ramadan

Being efficient is a skill that can always be improved upon. During Ramadan, however, it’s more important than ever to be incorporate efficiency into your life so that you spend less time in the kitchen and more time taking advantage of the opportunities for ibadat during this blessed month.

Check out these ten tips to get you in and out of the kitchen quickly and efficiently, insha’allah:

1. Have a Plan For the Daily Iftar Menu: If you didn’t prepare one ahead of time, it’s not too late. Check out my 5 Simple Steps for Planning Ramadan Meals to give you an idea on how get you started at any point during the month. You don’t have to follow the steps exact- just have a plan for what you’ll be cooking for most of the month.

2. Buy What You Can In Bulk: Aside from food bought in bulk, purchasing things like dish soap, sponges, kitchen towels, paper towels, cleansers and disposable eco-friendly dinnerware and cutlery will save you time running out to the store for the little things, all of which eat up precious time. Buying in bulk will not only help you keep meal-prep moving along smoothly for regular dinner nights, it will also help reduce stress when surprise guests or planned iftars pop up.

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4 Tips to Organize Your Ramadan Cooking

Ramadan is such a great time to get your home organized. Actually, for me all the organization happens way before the month of Ramadan when I begin planning how to plan it all out. Last year, much of what I did to prepare for Ramadan actually lasted for most of the year (i.e. drying citrus peels and saving herbs).

First, I plan the planning. I know Allah swt is the Best of Planners. He also likes us to be organized, clean and efficient, which involves being as prepared as we can and leaving the rest up to Him.

Here’s what I mean:

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Savory Zucchini Fritters

At the end of every summer, it’s easy to take the plethora of zucchini and other types of summer squash for granted. In my experience, people are trying to give it away because they have so much, and if they can’t give it to you as-is, they’ll try to give it to you in the … Read more

A Spanish Iftar

My friends and I decided to get together for an Iftar (breaking of the fast dinner). We thought having a theme would be a great way to focus on the food, as well as make it easier to come up with dishes each one of us would be responsible to make. We got together a … Read more

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