Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Surprise Arabian-Themed Grad Party & A Giveaway!

Hey everyone. I've been a little MIA these past few weeks because I was busy vacationing it up in sunny CA! Surprisingly (and depressingly) enough, it was a lot more sunny back here in MI than it was for the week I was in CA. In fact, it actually drizzled a few times which is unheard of right now for drought ridden SoCal. My older sister and I were both visiting from the Midwest so we believe we brought the cold with us. -_- Oh well, that's not to say that we didn't have an amazing time, because we did! Nothing can beat family and friends and partaaays. (Scroll to the bottom for giveaway deets)

My baby sis, HajBaj, is graduating from UCLA in just a few weeks with a double major and all sorts of honors and extra curriculars. It's pretty obvious that the entire family is insanely proud of her. To honor her major accomplishments, mommy, older sis, and I decided to throw her a surprise party. We did some stealthy detective work and invited all of her closest friends from school and some from outside of school as well. Then we got busy planning all the details of this surprise Arabian themed party.

My majorly talented sister Mehwish, who also has her own blog at My Slice of Pizza, was the biggest asset to this event. Together, my mom, sister, and I made almost every decoration, food item, and dessert you see in the pictures. Here's a little breakdown of everything that made this party a success.

For decor, I painted these beautiful henna lanterns/ mason jars that my sister turned into beautiful floral arrangements. Additionally, we decorated the table with confetti and fake diamonds we had from previous parties. 

We pinned up a plain colored cloth backdrop and taped matching colored streamers and balloons on top to create the dessert table set up. 

On the menu was baba ghanoush, hummus, pita bread, zatar and cheese naan, olives and pickles, tabbouli, spanakopita, cheese and crackers, falafel, arabian meat and rice dish, roasted chicken and veggies, and alfredo pasta. Yummm. My mom, the chef, made all the food herself with a little help from us girls and her closest friends! 

For desserts, we decided to make all the dessert we loved most instead of following a theme. I supplied baklava from the most famous Middle Eastern bakery here in MI. 

My sister made this amazing watermelon fruit basket and to-die for smores cupcakes with graham cracker crust and marshmallow frosting. We also bought a few more desserts - cheesecake bites and cream puffs. 

Now on to the giveaway! I will be giving away one of these hand painted, henna lantern mason jars to two lucky winners. The giveaway will remain open until Friday, June 12th and I will announce the winners soon after on Facebook. 

To enter the giveaway..
- like my Facebook page here
- follow my Instagram account here @ bestofwardah
- comment below saying what color you would like (out of pink, blue, and purple) and that you've liked my FB page and followed the Instagram account.
- (optional) for additional entries - share the giveaway on Facebook and Instagram and tag Best of Wardah in your posts. Write a new comment with each new entry.

Don't worry, if you don't win, you can also buy them for an inexpensive price at my Etsy shop, Eggs by Wardah. Good luck!

I hope you've enjoyed this post and can take inspiration from it! :) 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Healthy, Guilt-free, and Baby Friendly Chocolate Date Balls

Date balls are the ultimate paleo dessert. With no added sugar, only natural sweetness, and full of protein, these date balls take the cake when it comes to a guilt-free dessert. These are the perfect alternative when you're craving a large slice of chocolate cake to stuff your face with. Granted, not the same thing, but the added cocoa powder adds a great fudge-y flavor. I made these date balls a week ago only to watch them be demolished by S and Baby in no time! 

The date balls are so customizable. By adding a tablespoon of cocoa powder, I instantly made these date balls chocoholic friendly. I filled them with a mix of nuts and rolled them in cocoa powder, pistachio nuts powder, and coconut flakes. You can decide what nuts you want to fill your date balls with and what to roll them in. Store them refrigerated in an air tight container for up to 1 week or so. I don't think the date balls go bad, but they will lose their freshness. 

My 16 month old son loved these too (probably my favorite thing about these balls)! These are the perfect treat for baby when he doesn't want to eat anything else but you want him to have that extra boost of energy and healthy fats. Don't feed these to babies under 1 years old!! For a toddler friendly alternative, chop the nuts extremely small or exclude them completely to reduce the risk of choking. Only use nuts that you have tested for allergic reactions. You might want to leave the cocoa powder out too. 

Chocolate Date Balls
(makes around 25 balls)

1 1/3 cup of washed and pitted dates
1/3 cup almonds
1/3 cup cashews
1/3 cup walnuts
1-2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla powder
cocoa powder, powdered pistachio, and coconut flakes for topping

Throw all the ingredients into a food processor (except the toppings) and blend until well combined. I ended up chopping the nuts painstakingly by hand since my food processor sucks but this is supposed to be much easier than that. 

Shape the mixture into equal sized balls (I used a 1 tsp measuring spoon). 

Roll them in whatever topping you desire. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mozzarella Cheese Stuffed Meat Balls

I'm moving this week and let me just get this out there, moving with a baby is hard!  It makes me grateful for loving family and amazing friends. It's stressful times like these, moving or exams or welcoming a baby, when having frozen food can be so helpful. Frozen food just eliminates the stress of having to cook food! And any stress gone is a good thing.

So as I sit in a coffee shop, writing this blog post, since I don't have internet at my new place yet, I am grateful for these yummy meat balls in my freezer. Here's how you can make them too!

Tip on how to wash ground beef thoroughly - Put the meat in a large bowl and fill it with water until all the meat is separated. Shake it around and loosen all the particles, make sure water gets everywhere. Line a colander with 3 or 4 sheets of paper towels and pour in the meat. Let it strain for a few minutes and gently squeeze the paper towels so all the water drains out. Repeat until you think the meat is clean enough to your liking (for me one good rinse and drain is enough). This method is long but it gets all the icky blood out without getting little meat pieces stuck in your strainer!

Mozzarella Cheese Stuffed Meat Balls
(Makes around 12-16)

1 lb ground beef
1 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tsp paprika
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 handful cilantro, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1-2 tbsp water (as needed)

2 Mozzarella sticks (string cheese)
3 tbs olive oil
1 jar pasta sauce
boiled pasta

Cut the mozzarella sticks into 8 pieces each.

Mix together the first set of ingredients until fully combined. Don't be afraid to use your hands! Add water only if necessary if the mixture is too dry to shape into balls.

Next is a sweet trick on making same sized meatballs and shaping them easily. Spread the mixture into a rectangular shape. Cut 12-16 squares out of it. Press a cheese piece into the mixture. Now just roll each square into a ball! (Here is when you can freeze the meatballs. To use them, just defrost in the fridge overnight and then continue on to the next steps). 

Heat oil in a large skillet and cook meatballs on each side until fully browned, around 10 minutes. Add in the pasta sauce and simmer while covered for an additional 15 minutes or until the meatballs are fully cooked through. Don't worry if some cheese leaks out at this point! It's not the end of the world if it does. :)

Serve over boiled pasta and enjoy!

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