Knee deep in jelly roll


This week I have been working on creating the perfect jelly roll! Each day the kids come home they do a quick check of the freezer, then the oven and finally the trash. I made a walnut jelly roll this week and was pleased with the final results. I will try to complete my testing this weekend.

But, the question still remains, “what do you do when knee deep in jelly roll?” I say…

“Keep on rolling!”


A thousand cupcakes


Months back when we were just starting this blissful journey, Foof and I decided we would make pastries for the wedding. A gorgeous cake has been ordered from Mom and Dad’s favorite place but we wanted to add some flare and do something a bit different. We were supposed to get together numerous times to work on this project but it just never happened. So, today is the day! How many cupcakes will we make and what flavors?



She had noticed him months before and what started as innocent flirtation now turned into a combination of mixed emotions. He was cute, no, handsome and he talked to her when she walked near his area. He was different, respectful and clean cut, navigating the boundaries that she had carefully erected over years of conditioning.

Several opportunities had been missed as he slowly tried to engage in small talk dropping hints that ended up being cast off as normal conversation. His demeanor sparked her interest and now questions swirled through her mind. She had never imagined dating or getting married and could not think of entering into a relationship with someone who was not from her faith. It had been planted in her brain that this was forbidden and only now did she falter explaining how he made her laugh.

He sent her an instant message at work and nonchalantly posed the question” I have a gift card, want to catch dinner sometime?”


After Ben popped the question a flurry of planning, testing, creating and hard work began!

As the day drew closer we went to Fattima and Ben’s house to decorate and organize.


Prep work was completed during the two days that lead up to the big event until there was nothing else to do but place the final touches on our project!

The big day finally arrived and it was time to put it all together. Tupperwares full of fresh veggies, boxes of supplies, cream puff shells, oreo pops, bread and fresh lemon bars were all packed up and carted off to our venue (Fattima and Ben’s place).

The bride nervously paced and inspected, jumping in to help when allowed, meanwhile Ben decided it was wise to sit on the couch eating ramen noodles from a pan, keeping clear of the organized chaos.

Guests started to arrive around 1 p.m. where they checked in and were given an overview of events.

A quick turn to the photo wall and then onto water, coffee and a little snack.


The bridal party

Family and friends from both Bride and Groom’s side attended and the day began with Bridal Bingo, the apron memory game and finally a cute surprise video of Ben answering numerous silly questions that had been previously recorded!

Guests won prizes, people laughed and then it was time for a bite to eat!

Shortly after lunch the bride-to-be was asked to open gifts and of course that is when the real fun began!

Jacki kept track of the gifts and Alayna made her way around the room.

While people looked at a variety of bridal gifts including; bedding, cookware and even outdoor accessories, we assembled and arranged the dessert area.

IMG_20180715_144419 (3)

As the Bridal Shower came to a close the men started trickling in and with them our two special boys!

It was an amazing day and one that was never imaginable. It was assumed that my girls would marry men of their father’s choosing until I flat out declined and ultimately made the decision to stay in the U.S. nine years ago! This is a huge milestone for our family and one that will help guide us in further choices!IMG_8777 (1)

Elva’s Meringue Cookies

My Grama Elva was the 11th child of Swedish immigrants and hence they named her number eleven in Swedish-Elva! She was a master baker and people loved her homemade cinnamon rolls, caramels, cakes, pies and pastries! She also made meringue cookies and then her recipe was passed down to my mother who made them every Christmas eve while I was growing up. This past weekend we made a quick overnight trip to see mom and dad. We helped them put up the holiday houses and just spent time together. I asked mom if she would once again be a guest on the blog and she agreed! She just had dental surgery so you won’t see her flashing her pretty smile in photos! Thanks Mom love you!

Below is a picture of my Grandmother Elva (far right) and her 6 sisters. Elva was born in 1911. I am estimating this photo was taken around 1930.


Sisters are: Clara, Bea, Grace, Hilda, Verna, Ida and Elva, listed in random order



2 egg whites

1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

1/8 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

food coloring optional



Preheat oven to 300 degrees

Grease a baking sheet (Mom uses butter)

Place egg whites in a mixing bowl. Add cream of tartar, salt, vanilla, beat until soft peaks form.



When whites are starting to form stiff peaks, gradually add sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. At this point Mom folds in a drop of food coloring for the holiday season, this is optional. Fold in chocolate chips. She always uses nuts but you can leave them out if you prefer no nuts.


Drop batter by spoonful onto baking sheet.


Place in oven and time for 25 minutes. Remove from oven when done.




Roz bi halib Middle Eastern (Rice Pudding)

Many countries have a recipe for rice pudding. It was never a favorite of mine, but when I tried this Middle Eastern version I found that I liked it and went to making it right way.  I read many recipes in books and they didn’t turn out well. I ended up with a big bunch of sticky mess or possibly scorched tasting goo and when I served it the same response from Arab guests, “Hmm What’s this?” So I decided I had to figure this out! A  neighbor on the compound who was from Jordan, made it and it was perfect so I asked her my usual question “Can I come watch?”

After watching her I made it many times until I perfected it and again put my own touch on it. So the following is Roz Halib -Rice Pudding

Roz is RICE Halib is milk.


2 cups water

4 cups milk

3/4 cup rice uncooked

1 cup white sugar

1 spoon rose water

1Tbs. cornstarch mixed in a little water according to package directions

sprinkle of cinnamon


Mix water, milk , sugar and rice in pan and bring to a boil.

I use a large pan because milk can boil over, making a huge mess! I let it boil, then turn down right away, cover it and keep it low boiling for about 30 minutes or until rice is very soft. Make sure it is just boiling we don’t want it to scorch!



Turn heat off. Mix cornstarch with some water to dissolve. Add to milk mixture and whisk well, turn heat back on whisking it so it doesn’t get lumpy, cook a few more minutes and let it lightly boil. Turn off heat. Stir in Rose Water.


above is the consistency we are looking for

There are many ways to make this dessert, some people like lots of rice and thicker pudding or much more rose water. I like mine to have rice just floating in it. So it depends on your taste. My kids do not love rose water but do like a little hint so it really is an individual taste.

Once pudding has thickened  turn off heat and cool slightly, pour into dessert cups. Some people top with chopped pistachio nuts, we like a sprinkle of cinnamon. Put dishes in refrigerator and let set and cool before eating.




Monster Cookies

These are huge, fun cookies. You can put whatever extras you like in them! My mom made them for us years back and we just loved them!


There isn’t that much to do in Saudi except shop and shop some more at the amazing malls. When my son was around the age of 14 he wanted to play sports. So, he found out about an organization in Riyadh that gives kids the opportunity to play Basketball, Baseball and a few other sports. He signed up, played and later coached. There is always a team mom who organizes snacks and as you can imagine it is very hot, so lots of water, drinks, fruit and snacks are needed.

My girls loved making these cookies and the kids were always thrilled! You can make them any size but generally we make them the size of hmmmm the palm of your hand! This recipe makes quite a few depending on how large you make them, but when making for the team we at least doubled the below batch!!


1 cup softened butter

3/4 cup shortening

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

3 eggs

4 level cups flour

3 cups oatmeal (uncooked of course)

2 packages M-M candy

1 package mini semi sweet chocolate chips( regular size are fine as well)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix sugars, butter and shortening in mixer very well until fluffy.

Add eggs, continue mixing. Add peanut butter and mix well.

Add salt and soda, mix and then add flour. Make sure dough is well mixed.

Mix oatmeal in (not with mixer) and add chocolate. Mix in.


Scoop up some dough (maybe 3 spoons) and put on baking sheet. Flatten dough out lightly into a circle. Do not work with dough too much or it might stick, just flatten out a bit.


Let bake for 15 minutes or until done.


Delicious and fun!!

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies with a bit of peanut butter

This cookie recipe is dedicated to my second oldest son, Yusuf,  who is now grown and married, working as an Engineer, and a fantastic cook. Arabic school starts early and so the kids got up each morning at around 5:30. a.m. I made eggs, cream cheese sandwiches, bought cereal, but the kids could not eat that early. One morning I made cookies and that worked out well. While cookies might not sound like the best breakfast, at least a glass of milk and a cookie was a start. Yusuf liked this and wanted them every morning. I decided to make huge batches, divide the dough into baggies and freeze them. So, each morning I just popped a bag out and made him cookies. This went on until he went off to college! This is the recipe and it has worked well for me! I like the combination of butter and shortening. This makes the cookies soft but firm.

Now that he is grown and makes his own cookies, I have a new fan, my mother! My mother has always loved chocolate! So, when we moved back to the States I started making cookie dough for her. The difference is that she loves walnuts and chocolate. So, the kids laugh and say that Grama has some cookie dough with her nuts and chocolate chips. I make my huge batch, bag it up and off it goes to Grama’s freezer.



1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 cup butter softened

3/4 cup shortening

1/8 cup peanut butter

3 eggs

4 1/4 cups level flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. soda

1 package semi sweet chocolate chips


Mix together sugars, butter and shortening. Mix well until fluffy, add eggs, continue mixing. Add peanut butter, mix well. Add salt and soda. Mix very well. Add the flour and finish mixing.


Using a spoon mix in chocolate chips. I always do a test cookie, or several for my large family haha! So test a couple and see if you need an extra spoon of  flour.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place dough by spoonfuls onto baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until done




Yusuf                                Yusuf and Grama (lynz mom)






Lemon Bars

Years ago a friend gave me a recipe for a delicious lemon bar that used cake mix. I tried it but wanted something more lemony with a lighter crust. So I tried many recipes, added my own touch and have made this one for years! I’ts my middle child’s (Abdullah) favorite!This luscious bar boasts a light and tender crust, a layer of cream cheese and tart lemon yum! You will love it every time!



2 level cups flour

1  Cup softened but not melted butter

1/2 level Cup Powdered Sugar

First layer

One package cream cheese, mixed with 1/4 cup sugar

Second Layer

4 eggs

2 Cups sugar

1/2 level cup flour

6 Tbs. FRESH Lemon juice

Powdered sugar for sifting on top


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Be very careful with the crust measurements, level cup is key. This crust is delicate and tasty but with even a spoon too much flour the light texture is lost. In a mixing bowl, mix crust ingredients until a nice batter is formed.


Spread into an ungreased 9X13 baking pan, make sure dough is as even as possible through out pan. Put into oven and bake for about 15 minutes.


Watch this because oven temperatures vary. We wan’t this to be a light golden brown around the edges and cooked. Remove from oven and cool.


Mix the cream cheese in a bowl or mixer with sugar. When crust is cool carefully spread the cream cheese over the crust using a butter knife, spread it so you don’t break the crust.


Crack 4 eggs and put them into your mixer bowl, add sugar and whip up! Let this get nice and frothy, add the lemon juice and flour, mix well. Again, make sure the flour is level, too much will ruin this light texture!

Put into oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until inside is done! You will see it doesn’t jiggle!

Dust top with Powdered sugar. Let set, cut and serve.


Trust me totally yummy!

Richard’s Birthday Cake

My Grandmother had a friend who always made her son this special cake on his birthday. So, she renamed it after her son, Richard. My mother passed this recipe on to me. It is easy and very elegant. I started making it when my oldest son was 2 years old.

My son was hmmm quite active. A precious and beautiful baby who turned into a human world wind. There was never a dull second. He was bright, inquisitive and always on the move. Every cupboard, drawer and even yes, the oven had a latch, lock, or hook! Keeping this adorable child out of harms way was a huge undertaking and his adventures would fill the pages of a rather large book.

I always made this cake the night before I intended to serve it and this helped it to set. I made two cakes that night,  I was so pleased to have this special cake frosted and beautifully placed on my cake plate. I had hours of work ahead so at least a dessert was done.

That evening I took a break and a friend dropped by with her two little girls. The oldest was my son’s friend, Nadine. I kept my eye on him even more closely on these play dates because they: untied shoes and tied all of the laces together, took drawers out of cupboards and hurled them down the stairs, smeared vaseline on tables, chairs and walls, you get the idea. As soon as we discovered one disaster another one was awaiting us. We sat and talked, followed them around the house carrying our little babies and trying to avert the next disaster.

Finally the night came to an end and it had been a rather quiet visit for a change. As they were gathering their things ready to leave, my oldest son walked into the family room looking very pleased. He held 2 plates one in each hand.


He was grinning and beaming. I looked at huge blobs of white neatly plopped on each plate.  It seemed like other bits of yellow stuck out here and there. He handed one to Nadine and smiled, setting his plate down to retrieve the forks from his overalls. It then dawned on me this was my beautiful cake. I ran to the refrigerator to find huge chunks hacked out of my perfect cake.

I couldn’t be upset as he stood by the fridge door, angelic face, questioning. What mommy what happened! Luckily I had a second cake!

Here is my son the accountant, then and now!



1 yellow cake mix

4 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 can mandarin oranges


1- 16 ounce whipped topping

1 large can crushed pineapple

1 small package instant vanilla pudding (not prepared)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease and lightly flour 2 round cake pans


Mix cake mix, oil and eggs, add mandarin oranges and mix well.


Pour into two pans.


Bake 25- 30 minutes or until done.

Let cool and then turn out onto wax paper.

Mix filling ingredients in a bowl with a spoon not a mixer.

Refrigerate to set.

You can use the two layers and frost or slice each in two.


Put one layer on cake plate, put filling and spread out, add each layer.

Frost with filling and refrigerate. Serve and yumm

Strawberry Jelly Roll Dream

This old fashioned dessert is beautiful and gives various textures as well as flavor. You can use any basic jelly roll as well as your favorite whipped cream type mousse or fluff. This recipe is more about the idea and assembly behind this lovely dessert.

Ingredients for fluff

16 ounce container frozen strawberries thawed according to package directions

1 small container whipping cream

1/2 cup sugar

1 Tbs. lemon juice

A few fresh strawberries for garnish


Blend strawberries so it’s not too chunky, add lemon juice and mix.

Whip cream with sugar until fairly stiff. Fold together whipped cream and strawberries. Let set in refrigerator until needed.

Jelly roll

You can use any basic white jelly roll recipe. I have used a variety of recipes and any basic one will do.

I spread strawberry jam on the jelly roll and roll it up.


How this all comes together

Slice half of the jelly roll into 1 inch pieces and the other half into thinner slices. Use a small spring form pan. Stand the thicker jelly roll slices up along the sides of the pan and line the bottom with thinner slices making a crust. Spread strawberry fluff on top and refrigerate or freeze. After several hours decorate the top with whipped cream and fresh strawberries. Remove ring from pan. Transfer to a serving tray and serve.