Archive for October, 2010

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

Posted in Breads, Breakfast/Brunch, Dessert with tags , , , , on October 31, 2010 by Cooking For Mark
Pair these warm cinnamon rolls with a cup of coffee and you have the perfect fall breakfast.  And no need to wake up early either.  If you make these the night before, all you do is wake up and place them in the oven.  The pumpkin cinnamon sent will soon fill your house and everyone will be waking up with mouth-watering curiosity. Also, these are a bit healthier than most cinnamon rolls. Go ahead, take a look at the ingredients..yup, no butter and still delicious!
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls Ingredients: (Bake at 350 Degrees for 20 minutes)
  • 1/3 c. buttermilk (or regular)
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tsp dry active yeast
  • 1/2 c. pumpkin puree (canned)
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 -3 c. flour

Directions: combine all ingredients except flour and mix thoroughly. Add flour 1/2 c. at a time until it forms into a ball without sticking to your fingers.  Knead for 7 minutes. Cover with damp cloth and let rise for 1 hour. Prepare filling.


  • 1/3-1/2 c. pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice (or nutmeg)
  • 1/3 c. chopped pecans or walnuts (or choc chips!)

Directions: After the dough has doubled in size, punch down and roll out to about the size of a cookie sheet. Spread a thin layer of pumpkin puree and then a layer of sugar/cinnamon mixture. Top with nuts (optional).  Roll lengthwise and cut 1 inch pieces. Place parchment paper on pizza pan and assemble the rolls around so that they are touching one another. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes. Bake in preheated oven at 350 for 20 minutes. Take out of oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar and a bit of cinnamon. Decorate with cream cheese swirl.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1/2 package cream cheese, @ room temp
  • 1 tbsp milk (approx.)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Approx 1/4 c. powdered sugar, to taste

Directions: mix ingredients together until smooth.  Use ziplock bag to decorate the rolls.

Note: These cinnamon rolls are not the overpowering, sugary drenched rolls you may be used to.  Personally, I don’t like that. But if you do, feel free to glaze it with a sugar frosting and then add the cream cheese on top.


Veggie Tortilla Quiche

Posted in Breakfast/Brunch with tags , , , on October 31, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

This is probably one of my top favorite breakfasts.  It is super delicious and healthy.  The hardest part is waiting for it to bake, which is why the leftovers are even better!

Veggie Tortilla Quiche Ingredients (Bake at 375 for 30 minutes)

  • 3-4 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-2 handfulls mushrooms, cut
  • 1/2 bunch spinach, washed and cut
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 small can artichokes
  • 2 roasted red pepper slices (jar)
  • 1/3 c. feta cheese
  • 1/3 c. mozzarella cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c. milk or yogurt


  1. Saute onions, garlic, mushrooms and spinach for about 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Place tortillas on a greased pie plate. Top with sauteed veggies.
  3. Top with artichokes and sliced roasted red peppers
  4. Add feta cheese and half of mozzarella cheese
  5. Beat eggs and milk. Season with a tiny bit of salt and pepper. Add to veggies.
  6. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese.
  7. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Let it cool for about 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Chupa Chups waiting for her breakfast…

Baked Chilaquiles

Posted in Breakfast/Brunch, Mexican with tags , , on October 6, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

Chilaquiles is a traditional mexican breakfast where corn tortillas are fried, scrambled eggs are added and either a red or green sauce is mixed in, topped with sour cream and cheese. Although I like chilaquiles, I don’t like soggy tortilla chips or the egg mixed in with the tortillas. So I make mine a bit differently.

My version of chilaquiles: a pyramid of black beans, crispy tortilla chips, green enchilada sauce and mozzarella cheese, baked until the cheese is gooey and bubbly, topped with a fried egg, cotija cheese, sour cream, cilantro and scallions. Slightly different technique, huge difference.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 12 corn tortillas, cut in triangles and fried until golden
  • 1 can green enchilada sauce
  • 1 can black beans
  • Mozzarella or pepper jack cheese
  • Cotija cheese or feta
  • 4 fried eggs
  • Green onion
  • Red onion
  • Cilantro
  • Jalapeno
  • Sour cream

Directions: preheat oven to 450. In oven-safe bowl, add about 1/3 c. black beans. Top with fried tortilla triangles, lots of green salsa, and mozzarella cheese.  Bake in oven until cheese is melted. Place a fried egg on top, and garnish with cotija cheese, cilantro, green onion, red onion, jalapeno and sour cream.

Foodbuzz 24×24 Kids Table Event: Jasmin’s “A Whole New World” Birthday Bash

Posted in Appetizers, Dessert, Party with tags , , , on October 5, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

Last week I was picked to be part of this month’s 24×24 event…which means that this birthday party was sponsored by Foodbuzz, in an effort to raise awareness for Save the Children on behalf of Frigidaire. They were generous enough to give me $250 to put this party together for my little niece’s 3rd birthday party. I had a great time planning all the meals, and the party was a great success. A special thanks to foodbuzz, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of my Mom who was the party planner, coordinator, and chef who put everything together, my sister “sou chef” Kari who slaved away in the kitchen, my Grandma Dalila who was there helping in every way that she could, and my brother Benny and sister in law Norma who were in charge of decorations. Also, a special thanks to our talented photographer, Xavier Gutierrez, who took many wonderful photos of this special day.

And we couldn’t have had a birthday party without the beautiful birthday girl, Jasmin. Happy birthday my  little sweetie pie! I hope you had a magical birthday party. I love you!

This was a “Princess” themed party, where Jasmin came dressed as “Princess Jasmine” from the disney movie Aladdin...and she looked so cute! We decided to have Middle Eastern inspired food that was not only healthy but fun for the kids to enjoy.  Some of the kid’s favorites were the fruit kebabs and peanut butter and banana hummus sandwiches. The kids enjoyed helping grill their own chicken kebabs and they built their own wraps with their choice of veggies and tzatziki sauce. They also enjoyed making their own orange cream soda with orange juice, club soda, and vanilla ice cream. The kids had a lot of fun and greatly enjoyed trying new food and learning about different cultures, and the parents enjoyed trying new food as well. Great party, great company, and tasty food. Thank you to everyone who was able to come enjoy this very special day.



Watermelon, strawberry and lime agua fresca with bubbly club soda

Healthy Orange Cream Soda


For the Kids: Peanut Butter, Honey, and Banana Hummus Sandwiches

For the Parents: spicy roasted red pepper hummus with feta and chips

Fruit kebabs

Mini pizza “pogaca” bites with marinara dipping sauce

Main Course

Grilled Chicken Kebabs

Arabian Fattoush Salad

Lime Rice


Pistachio Crumble Cookies

Lollipop Sugar Cookies with Marshmallow Fondant Swirl

Princess Jasmine Birthday Cake


Healthy Orange Cream Soda and Watermelon Strawberry Agua Fresca

Forget the sugary store-bought soda. We served a watermelon and strawberry agua fresca with a bit of lime and club soda. It’s healthy, refreshing, and its got a little bit of the soda fizz kids like so much.

As a dessert drink, we had a “build your own Orange Cream Soda”. Very simple: kids would fill their cups with orange juice, club soda, and top it off with a scoop of low-fat  ice cream. Fun, easy and a healthier alternative kids are sure to love!


Peanut Butter, Honey, and Banana Hummus Sandwiches

I cannot believe how well my invention turned out!  This is a peanut butter hummus (no, there is no garlic!) sweetened with honey, sprinkled with cinnamon, and served in a pita sandwich with bananas.  SUPER nutritious, and SUPER tasty! The sprinkles on top make it that much more appealing to the little ones. This snack is not only great for parties, but for regular after-school snacks as well. Parents, you will thank me for this one, cause your kids are gonna start to like eating healthy…without knowing it!

Click here for the recipe.


Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Feta Hummus and Chips

A great appetizer everyone will surely love. And extremely easy to make at home! The addition of roasted red pepper, cayenne, and feta make this a fantastically unique hummus like you’ve never had before…and it’s extremely addicting too!

Click here for the recipe


Fruit Kebabs

A great hit with the kids! Not only does it look extremely appetizing, but it’s a great “on the go” snack for kids.  They would simply pick up a fruit skewer and run off to play with the other kids.


Pogaca Pizza Bites

Remember the Turkish Pogacas I made a few months ago? Well, I decided to revisit that and make little pizza balls stuffed with mozzarella and pepperoni paired with a marinara dipping sauce. Could anything else be more appealing to kids?


Grilled Chicken Kebabs


Yes, another convenient “on the go” meals for the kids to enjoy. Instead of having the kids take time to sit down, cut their chicken and eat it, they simply went over to the grill and asked my dad for a chicken skewer. Even though they were meant to be chicken kebab pita sandwiches, the kids were perfectly content with picking up a kebab and running off to play while they ate their juicy marinated grilled chicken.  There was no begging kids to eat. They did it all by themselves!

The chicken was marinated with a mixture of plain yogurt, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, paprika, turmeric, cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper. Marinate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight for some delicious and juicy chicken!


Arabian Fattoush Salad

We served this as a side salad and as a topping for the chicken kabob sandwiches. This tangy, yummy and healthy salad is super easy to prepare, and best of all, the kids ate  it because there were onion chunks in there.

Click here for the recipe.


Lime  Rice

This was no ordinary rice. This rice had a bit of butter, roasted garlic, lime zest, and was cooked in lime juice and chicken stock, resulting in a fragrant and full of flavor rice. Even though it had “green stufff” (parsley), the kids nonetheless enjoyed it.


Pistachio Crumble Cookies

It’s no kids party without the sweets.  We made little pistachio “mexican wedding” cookies and added sprinkles on top. A great dessert for kids and adults alike. My sister Kari made about 100 of these, but it was not nearly enough!

Click here for the recipe.


Lollipop Sugar Cookies with Marshmallow Fondant Swirl

These lollipop sugar cookies were really fun, but I wouldn’t recommend making them. The fondant swirl was a bit labor intensive..and much too sweet.  I ended up making only 3 fondant swirl cookies, and the rest were regular sugar cookie lollipops with a pink sugar glaze.  Much easier and tastier too. But, I would recommend these as a project where the kids can make their own. As long as the fondant is already made (which is really not all that hard), the kids will have fun molding and shaping their own swirl cookie.

Click here for the recipe.


Princess Jasmine Birthday Cake

Because we didn’t have enough time to make and decorate a cake, we outsourced the job to a local bakery.  And as for the decorations, no one had Princess Jasmine cake decorations so we used a Jasmine Barbie doll…so clever!

Lollipop Sugar Cookies with Marshmallow Fondant Swirl

Posted in Dessert, Party with tags , , , on October 3, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

I made these lollipop sugar cookies for my little nice’s 3rd birthday party. Although they were really fun, I wouldn’t recommend making them. The fondant swirl was a bit labor intensive..and much too sweet.  I ended up making only 3 fondant swirl cookies, and the rest were regular sugar cookie lollipops with a pink sugar glaze.  Much easier and tastier too. But, I would recommend these as a project where the kids can make their own. As long as the fondant is already made (which is really not all that hard), the kids will have fun making molding and shaping their swirl cookie.

Sugar Cookies Ingredients: (Adapted from AllRecipes)

  • 1 1/2 c. butter, at room temperature
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 5 c. flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Cream sugar and butter. Add vanilla.
  2. Add eggs, one at a time.
  3. Mix with dry ingredients.
  4. Form a ball, and place in freezer for about 30 minutes.
  5. Roll out dough on floured surface and cut round pieces.
  6. Place in baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  7. Place a lollipop stick in the middle, and pinch sides to cover stick.
  8. Bake in preheated oven at 400 6-8 minutes. Cool completely.

Glaze, or “glue” Ingredients:

  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp flavored coffee creamer, or regular milk
  • 3 drops of red food coloring
  • Cream cheese (optional)–makes it much tastier

Add a thin layer to sugar cookie, then top with fondant swirl.

Marshmallow Fondant Ingredients:

  • 1 bag marshmallow
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 big bag powdered sugar

Fondant Directions:

  1. Combine marshmallow, water, and vanilla in saucepan.  Melt marshmallow.
  2. Place melted marshmallow in big bowl, and add 1/2 the bag of powdered sugar.
  3. Butter your hands (to prevent sticking) and knead the fondant. Add more sugar until it’s like play dough consistency.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  5. The next day, color fondant with food coloring (knead in until fully mixed), and swirl fondant over glazed cookie.

Pistachio Crumble Cookies

Posted in Dessert, Party with tags , , , on October 3, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

These are similar to “mexican wedding cookies”, but are made with pistachios instead of walnuts…which I love!  Since there were made for a kid’s birthday party I also added colorful sprinkles to the top. I also made some into lollipops but had a hard time making them stay in place. But they are just as cute in little muffin liners.

Ingredients: (Adapted from

  • 1 c. Butter, soft
  • 1/3 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 c. pistachios, crushed
  • More powdered sugar, for dusting on top
  • Sprinkles (optional)


  1. Combine all ingredients until it comes together. Roll into small balls about the size of golf balls.
  2. Place in baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Place balls in freezer for about 15 minutes
  4. Bake in preheated oven at 350 for 12-15 minutes.
  5. When slightly cooled, dust powdered sugar and sprinkles on top.

Arabian Fattoush Salad

Posted in Salads with tags , , , , on October 3, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

This traditional Levantine salad is made with sweet tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, salty kalamata olives, fresh parsley, green onions and topped with toasted pita bread.  The dressing is made with lime juice, olive oil and crushed garlic. Simple and delicious!


  • About 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1 large cucumbers
  • 1/2 bunch scallions
  • Handfull of italian parsley
  • About 2 tbsp mint
  • 1/2 c. kalamata olives
  • Dressing: 1/3 c. olive oil, 1/3 c. lime juice, 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 tsp sumac, salt, pepper
  • 1/2 bunch of romaine lettuce
  • 1 c. Pita bread, broken into little pieces, lightly covered in olive oil and baked until crunchy.


  • Cut vegetables and herbs and place in salad bowl (except lettuce).
  • Combine dressing and pour over vegetables.
  • When ready to serve, place lettuce in plate, top with remaining vegetables marinating in the dressing, and finish off with crispy toasted pita bread.