July 26, 2013

Apple-Walnut Swirl Cake

Really simple and easy to make.

Use "any" vanilla cake recipe. The best and tried recipe that you have. The cake should be a little moist.

The mixture in between the cake layers includes:

1 Apple (peeled grated and dried)
1/2-1 cup chopped walnuts/pecans
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 lemon zest or 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2-4 tbsp brown sugar

Mix them all together and layer evenly. In 13 by 9 inch pan spread half the cake batter and sprinkle the apple/nuts mixture (recipe above). Then spread the remaining batter and bake at 180 degrees C for 25-30 minutes (check with toothpick-time may vary with ovens).With a fork or knife make swirls (like in a marble cake). Enjoy warm with tea.

Top 5: July in Riyadh. Weekend Bites

Weekend in Riyadh means "food" or/and "shopping. With a city with not-so-much to do, living in Riyadh we usually hangout with friends and families to eat or shop or...eat again ;) I try to discover and try something new every weekend- thanks to my love for good food especially dessert.

Here I have highlighted and reviewed the Top 5, July weekend bites  for me in Riyadh. Especially now with Ramadaan , midnight cravings before suhoor are a must ;) So go out tonight and try something good! :) 


Most people like TGIF, especially their drinks, soups and chilli fries. I am not a huge fan of TGIF atleast not their main course, but lately their service and food has been much better than before. Especially the mint mojito, cheesy french onion soup, chilli fries (ofcourse!) and this yummy malt ice cream- brownie-caramel sauce-almonds on top dessert in a glass. I love it! So if you're a fan of malt, caramel, ice cream or brownie-Try it! :)

Munch (bakery):

Munch has one of the best cupcakes in Riyadh-for sure. They have these small bite-sized cuppies best for a guilt free indulgence. Also if like me you are not into big creamy cupcakes these small minis are for you! They have plenty of flavors including; banana-walnut, red velvet with cream cheese, chocolate, maltesers on top, strawberry, coconut etc etc. They also do customized cakes for occasions but make sure you book well in advance they are quite busy. Craving for a cupcake which wouldn't be too much on the weighing scale, head towards Munch!

Trader Vic's:

Situated cosily in Panaroma Mall, takhassussi, Trader Vic's has been in Riyadh for quite some time now. Frankly I was not that fond of their food, but this Ramadan a friend mentioned their Iftaar being one of the best in town-value for money and taste...and I agree!

We took a couple of Arab friends with us, we all enjoyed the food. Drinks, soups, main course, galore of appetizers, desserts and salads. Will definitely recommend. Oh! and the service was good, too.


Located on the famous Tahlia street, Paul comes to Riyadh and we see people raving about it. We went on a weekend early evening, it was hot outside and the cafe was full inside. Good ambiance and a simple menu. Paul serve one of the best breads in town. Service was a bit slow because of the weekend, but the food was good nonetheless. We had hot drinks, soup and sandwich. My most favourite is the french onion soup in a bread bowl. They don't have anything special for the kids, so I was glad we had left our son at home with my mom. Enjoy an evening in the not-so-French cafe in Riyadh, but don't expect the same menu or ambiance as you would find in other parts of the world.

Red Chilli:

Last but not the least, my love for desi food- the paani puuris, bhalla papdi chaats and samosas at Red Chilli. Their meetha (dessert/sweet) section is called Red Cherry, where you can get all Indian/Pakistani sweets including, cham cham, gulab jaman, ras malai (which is amazing) etc.

So thats' it folks! Until next time :)

July 12, 2013

Inglots' O2M Breathable


After hearing about so much about the breathable Inglots' wudu-friendly craze I was shopping and decided to drop by Inglot- which has always fascinated me with there bright funky colors and big fake eyelashes (blue,green-yes!) on their counters. Anyhoo got my hands on these lovely shades; numbers: 652, 620, 613 and 618.  

Couldn't wait to try these out, they're all bright nice shades. Very wearable for nail color lovers like me! :)

Frankly I didnt try or experiment about it being wudu-friendly. There are plenty of fatwas on this (for and against-both).

I tried it a few times, removing it for wudu, it doesnt last very long if one coat applied, it starts to chip very easily so a base coat, 2-3 coats in between and a top coat is also necessary; which atleast in "my" opinion kills the whole idea of it being wudu friendly and breathable purpose if you put 4-5 coats on might as well use any nail color and wipe it off

Colors are also very limited at Inglot-Riyadh and they are mostly out of stock. Each bottle costs 60 SAR. 

Now it is totally upto you if you want to give it a try. Personally I might not buy it again.

March 1, 2013

Comfort Food: Chicken Pie

Who doesn't love chicken pies, perfect comfort food.

I used homemade pastry (recipe at the end) but you can use store-bought, ready to use pie crust also. You will find it in frozen section you can use roll-out puff pastry (short crust pastry or ready to fill pies).

Choose whatever is easily available.

I use a 13x7 oven proof glass dish for the pie I make and it is good enough for 4-6 people.


2 sheets thawed puff pastry.
Minced Chicken
Carrots, Bell peppers, Mushrooms, Corn, Onions.
1 beaten egg
Cheese optional.

How To Make: 

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees C. 

Grease the dish you will use with butter.

Meanwhile cook your chicken with salt, pepper, veggies and a splash of vinegar and soy-sauce. Do not over-dry the chicken. 

Next line pie plate with one sheet of pastry, fill with chicken mix and top with another pastry.

Press around edges to seal. Also make 6-8 slits with knife, to let steam escape.

Brush with egg and bake for 30 minutes (less or more according to your oven and pastry baking instructions). Until the pie is brown on top. 

Serve immeediately with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables.

A good shortcrust pastry recipe is from BBC-food, if you are into baking and want to bake your own homemade pie crust, try this Shortcrust Pastry Recipe and increase ingredients as needed.

December 8, 2012

Easy Lunch. Shrimp & Pasta (Tossed with olive oil & herbs)

The other afternoon was just lazing around at home and noon is the time one feels the hungriest & then end up grabbing a chocolate bar or something full of calories. I had shrimps in my freezer and ended up tossing it up with whole wheat spaghetti. Pretty simple, quick, healthy but delicious recipe.

A winter afternoon & something warm & healthy

This recipe was made for two so you can increase the quantity accordingly.

You will need a cup of washed, cleaned shrimps. Just saute them in a tablepoon of EVOO. Add black pepper, salt, 1-2 tbsp chilli sauce (if you want) and lemon juice few drops.

Boil spaghetti/pasta any shape you like and after it is boiled toss it with 2-3 tbsp EVOO, too.

Now toss them both together, sprinkle thyme & rosemary. I also added mushrooms & cherry tomatoes. You can add corn or bell peppers if you like but keep it simple and light for a lunch time healthy snack.

Enjoy! :)

November 16, 2012

What should a four year old know...?

Hello dear readers, I know I have been away from blogging it is almost non-existent now. I do miss writing and sharing stuff with you all, people have started asking what happend to the blog...?!?

Well, frankly lack of time, travelling often and just being lazy in general is what has happened...Trying to get back in it but something or the other comes up...But still will try to update as often as I can! Join facebook group for updates also.

Was just going through a forum the other day, searching recipes and food to give to my 4 year old (picky eater! sigh!) and came accross a discussion where a concerned mother asked how much should my 4-5 year old know...know in the sense of ABC's and 123's, writing and reading.

It was quite interesting to read the replies where other moms started listing how much their child knew: "my 3 year old can write his name and ABC's and "my 4 year old can do algebra!"

And then I came accross this magical childhood link...it really brought tears to my eyes and I wish more parents would start thinking that way and not make everything a competition and a rat race!

What should a 4 year old know?

We are such a competitive culture that even our preschoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.

So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.
  1. She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.
  2. He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
  3. She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.
  4. He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.
  5. She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that– way more worthy.

But more important, here’s what parents need to know.

1.That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.

2.That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.

3.That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.

4.That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children’s toys and they wouldn’t be missed, but some things are important– building toys like legos and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too– to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it’s absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.

5.That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids.

Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That’s not okay!

Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US. They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they’re a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.

And now back to those 4 year old skills lists…..

I know it’s human nature to want to know how our children compare to others and to want to make sure we’re doing all we can for them. Here is a list of what children are typically taught or should know by the end of each year of school, starting with preschool.

Since we homeschool, I occasionally print out the lists and check to see if there’s anything glaringly absent in what my kids know. So far there hasn’t been, but I get ideas sometimes for subjects to think up games about or books to check out from the library. Whether you homeschool or not, the lists can be useful to see what kids typically learn each year and can be reassuring that they really are doing fine.

If there are areas where it seems your child is lacking, realize that it’s not an indication of failure for either you or your child. You just haven’t happened to cover that. Kids will learn whatever they’re exposed to, and the idea that they all need to know these 15 things at this precise age is rather silly. Still, if you want him to have those subjects covered then just work it into life and play with the subject and he’ll naturally pick it up. Count to 60 when you’re mixing a cake and he’ll pick up his numbers. Get fun books from the library about space or the alphabet. Experiment with everything from backyard snow to celery stalks in food coloring. It’ll all happen naturally, with much more fun and much less pressure.

October 14, 2012

SNL By Sofia Naveed Lari (Shopping In Karachi)

My love for good shopping and Karachi go hand in hand. I love shopping anywhere but shopping back home is what I (and most pardesis) look forward to!

My most favourite past time when visiting, any time I have on hands has to be spent on looking for good stylish pieces: trendy clothes, vibrant colors, the upcoming ever changing designs of Pakistan keep us Pakistani ladies quite busy ;) first the "lawn" craze and then all the catching up with the ever-changing fashion is quite a job! Phew!

Everytime I visit I find something new in the market. Browsing through I came across SNL by Sofia. A young, talented, bubbly designer who is not new to designing but gained a lot of loyal clients in a very short span of time. Her designs are not the typical stuff you will find hanging on every other rack. Each piece is unique and what attracted me were the colors: the bright & eye catchy color blocking, the patterns, the flowers.

Her recent "Chamak Patti" collection was also a hit...with a perfect blend of bright hues, stylish cuts, beautiful delicate necklines & buttons.

Since then I have been a regular client of hers and her work always impresses me :)

SNL's gorgeous collection is available at both BJP & Ellemint Pret, in Karachi. She also stocks at The Designers in Islamabad. Sofia also has a facebook fan page (SNL) & can be contacted at snl@sofia.pk

September 29, 2012

Chewy, Crumbly, Dark Chocolate Cookies (NESTLÉ®)

When I think of food, I think of childhood... family meals, home cooked with love, baked goodies and best of all "cookie memories" revolving around cookies from my childhood days...chocolate chip cookies, chocolate filled cookies, creamy, buttery, coconutty, chewy and even plain milk ones. How do you like yours? Plain, thin and crisp, soft and chewy, with nuts, double chocolate chip or even triple chocolate ones (My personal favouite)

I always love to try out new cookies-Ben's cookies being one of my favourites out here in the desert. (must try their praline & triple chocolate ones!). But what is better than a home baked, chewy goodness. Iam the one with the mighty sweet tooth (or a sweet jaw if that would be a word). Husband on the other hand is more into dark and bitter ones.

So one fine day after watching (or rather drooling) over Food Network, I went to the kitchen and found a NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE®  bag in the fridge and on it, was this recipe. If you're a fan of bitter-sweet dark goodness, this recipe is for you.

As I say, you can always play around with the recipe and add semi-sweet chocolate chips just to give it a sweet kick!

cookies ready to go in the oven

  • Prep: 15 min

  • Yield: 12 Servings



    • 1 2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) Nestlé® Toll House® Dark Chocolate Morsels, divided
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 cup Nestlé® Toll House® Baking Cocoa
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    I got a little carried away and spread the melting chips, you can try that too!

    freshly baked


    • Preheat oven to 325°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease.
    • Melt 2/3 cup morsels in microwave-safe bowl on MEDIUM-HIGH (70%) power for 30 seconds; STIR. Morsels may retain some of their original shape. Microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted. Set aside.
    • Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add melted chocolate and mix well. Add egg and vanilla extract, mixing until well blended, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture, mixing just until blended. Stir in remaining 1 cup morsels. Drop dough by level 1/4-cup measure 3 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets.
    • Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs and the tops have a cracked appearance. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely. Makes: 12 cookies.

    hmmmm can let go of all diets for this beauty!

    Originally published as Jumbo Dark Chocolate Cookies in NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE®

    July 26, 2012

    Chewy Coconut Macaroons. (Paula Deen)

    This recipe is from Paula Deen on Food Network. Yes that is my favourite channel hehehe. Love all the recipes, the chefs, food network challenges and so much more.

    Was watching Paula Deen on food network the other day and she made these yummy looking macaroons. They are pretty easy and quick to make and ofcourse delicious especially if you are a coconut lover :)



    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    In a medium bowl, combine coconut, almond extract, and salt.

    Mix in condensed milk to form a thick paste.

    Fold in egg whites with cream of tarter.

    Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart.

    Bake for about 8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

    Do not over bake.

    Couldn't take photo after baking took this one from Food Network.

    They were chewy and crunchy, we enjoyed them warm and also drizzled condensed milk and chocolate sauce on top to give it an extar kick (of calories-ahem!). Enjoy :)

    July 25, 2012

    Brands Just Pret (Shopping In Karachi)

    Today I will be doing a short post on one of my favourite shopping places in Karachi.

    Brands Just Pret: A multi-brand fashion house located in the well-known Dolmen Clifton Mall are opening their second store at Dolmen Mall Tariq Road in July and third store at Ibn e Battuta Mall in Dubai in August.

    They stock more than 50 designers who offer a large range of trendy clothes with many options of cuts & colors you can choose from. The designs are very practical & affordable. My personal favourite designers at the store include Nazish Hussain, SNL, Najia Malik , Change and Ayesha Somaya. Their staff is super friendly and helpful. Apart from the clothes they also offer designer shoes, bags and jewellery. They also offer online shopping which is a benefit for all the international buyers. For shopping online you can visit www.brandsjustpret.com.

    This is one-stop shop, grab and go kind of a place. Short of time? This is the place to go especially when you have to shop for Eid or special occassions, travelling and don't have enough time on hands.

    Happy Shopping! :)


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