Monday, July 28, 2014


Bisteeya | Sweet and Savory Moroccan Chicken Pot Pie

For years, Warren and I have talked about making bisteeya--a gorgeous sweet and savory Moroccan chicken pot pie--but always put it off because it seemed like so much work. Even after eating our weight of bisteeya when we visited Morocco last year, we kept making excuses. So when Meriem of Culinary Couture invited me to participate in a virtual Eid party, I knew exactly what dish to make. 

Bisteeya | Sweet and Savory Moroccan Chicken Pot Pie

If you aren't familiar with Eid, it is the celebratory feast that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. Before moving to Dearborn, Michigan (where nearly 42% of the population is of Arab ancestry) I knew next to nothing about Eid. Luckily, living here means that Ramadan is widely celebrated so we have been able to learn more about it, and many other Muslim holidays, from our neighbors and friends. 

Bisteeya | Sweet and Savory Moroccan Chicken Pot Pie

We also love that Dearborn has a million amazing Middle Eastern eateries where we can indulge to our hearts' content. Sidebar: our favorite hummus in town is churned for twenty-four hours. The resulting hummus has the dreamiest texture that is comparable only to eating a gorgeous cloud of goodness. And don't even get me started on the bakeries. It's like baklava for days. 

(Also, Dearborn is one of the only places I've been that sells fresh green almonds at the supermarket. I had to get some to garnish this bisteeya platter because they are so beautiful!) 

 Bisteeya | Sweet and Savory Moroccan Chicken Pot Pie

But back to Eid and fasting. As a child, my family fasted monthly for religious purposes but I always looked at it as a major chore. I mean, what kid willingly gives up her daily bowl of Cap'n Crunch without a fight? But as I've grown into the custom, I have learned to see the beauty behind it. Learning to go without in a life full of excess has made me more aware of those who lack such plenty, especially those in my community. Plus, each monthly fast helps to remind me of all the small pleasures in my life--a square meal being chief among them. 

How to Make Bisteeya | Moroccan Chicken Pot Pie

Each month, I break my short fast with relief and gratitude. I can only imagine that those whole celebrate Eid experience similar feelings--and then some--especially after going a month without the things they crave. After all, it is one of the singular glories of life to sit down at a table overflowing with delicacies, sweets, and heavy platters to join your loved ones in merrymaking and thanksgiving. 

Bisteeya | Sweet and Savory Moroccan Chicken Pot Pie

And now let's talk bisteeya. If you've never had it before, you will be surprised but then delighted by the sweet and savory flavors. I love breaking into the crisp, buttery phyllo shell and digging into a big forkful of cinnamon-spiced chicken, sugary almonds, and sweet golden raisins. While bisteeya is typical everywhere in Morocco (and available at any time), it often graces Eid tables because it is such an elaborate production. 

We've had some bisteeya that tasted dried out. To battle that, we cooked chicken thighs (bisteeya is traditionally made with quail or pigeon) in a slow cooker (because you know how I feel about slow cookers). We also cooked the whole shebang in a rich custard bath. While there are about a million steps in this recipe, don't let that put you off. Essentially, you are slow cooking meat, then layering it between buttered phyllo dough sheets to make a crispy, juicy pie. 

Bisteeya | Sweet and Savory Moroccan Chicken Pot Pie

Using a slow cooker makes it so you don't have to worry about a thing. All you have to do is fry the almonds and whisk some eggs together. The trickest part of the whole pie is moving thin sheets of phyllo--and even then, it's okay if things rip or completely tear because you can just patch things up with another piece of phyllo! This is the perfect meal to make on a lazy Sunday. And your mouth will water like crazy smelling all those amazing spices filling your home. 

Warren took one bite of this and grinned like a goofball. We had finally made bisteeya and it was so, utterly worth it. 

Check out these other fabulous Eid ideas below:

Virtual Eid Party | Food and Treats to Break the Fast

Algerian Almond Paste Fruits by Culinary Couture
Moroccan Bisteeya by Club Narwhal
Pistachio Orange Rice Pudding by A Clean Bake
Bread Halwa by 40 Aprons
Shahi Tukda/ Pakistani Saffron Bread Pudding by La Tour De Force
Double Chocolate Baklava by The Sweet Tooth Life
Soft and Chewy Tahini, Honey, and Almond Cookies by An Edible Mosaic
Cashew Baklava Fingers by Wandering Spice

Bisteeya | Sweet and Savory Moroccan Chicken Pot Pie


Adapted from La Tartine Gourmande

For assembly
  • chicken filling (recipe below)
  • custard sauce (recipe below)
  • 3/4 cup sugared blanched almonds (recipe below)
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins (you can sub regular raisins)
  • about 10 phyllo dough sheets
  • 1 stick melted butter (you can start with 1/2 a stick and see if you need the whole stick to butter the phyllo sheets--we did, don't judge)
  • a few tablespoons of powdered sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • blanched almonds for garnish
For the Chicken filling and Custard Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 chicken thighs (bone in with skin)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger paste (or grated ginger; use 1 teaspoon ground ginger if you don't have fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped; plus 1 tablespoon chopped for the custard
  • 1/8 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 5 eggs
Heat olive oil in a large nonstick pan. Salt and pepper chicken thighs and brown on each side for about 2-3 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a slow cooker. Add diced onion, ginger, cinnamon, paprika, cilantro, parsley, and chicken stock. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, until chicken shreds easily. Shred chicken and set aside. Discard skin and bones. 

To make the custard sauce, dump remaining cooking liquid into a medium bowl. Add the eggs and 1 tablespoon remaining chopped cilantro and whisk until smooth. Set aside. 

For the sugared almonds
  • 3/4 cup blanched almonds 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
While the chicken is cooking, heat oil in a small nonstick pan. Add almonds and fry until golden brown. Take off heat and transfer to a bowl to stop the cooking. Toss fried almonds with cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.

To Assemble

*You will need to brush each sheet of phyllo with melted butter before adding it to the pan. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Layer four sheets of buttered phyllo in the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch springform pan (you can use a 9 x 9 glass pan as well). Your sheets will most likely tear in this process but you can patch tears with more dough. 

Layer half of the chicken on top of the phyllo sheets. Sprinkle with half of the sugared almonds and half of the golden raisins. Pour half of the custard sauce over the chicken, almonds, and raisins. Layer two more buttered phyllo sheets (folded in half) on top of the filling. 

Repeat layers--chicken, almonds, raisins, custard. Layer with two more buttered phyllo sheets (folded in half). Tuck the phyllo sheets on top of the pie and brush with a little more butter.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden. Remove and sprinkle with powdered sugar, cinnamon, and almonds. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Extra Fudgey Berry Bliss Cheesecake Brownies | Club Narwhal

Brownies. Has there ever been a more divisive treat? Fudgey vs. cakey. Dark vs. milk. Swirled vs. plain. Personally, I fall into the dark fudgey peanut butter swirl camp. But even Warren, who is firmly in the cakey, milk, plain jane camp loved these Extra Fudgey Berry Bliss Cheesecake Brownies. So don't worry, dark chocolate haters, these will go down the hatch just fine. 

(Also, it took an inordinate amount of time to decide whether to use fudgy or fudgey. While fudgy felt right, fudgey looked right, if that makes any sense. Probably because it contains the word fudge. These are the things that keep me up at night, friends.)

Extra Fudgey Berry Bliss Cheesecake Brownies | Club Narwhal

But back to these brownies. They are ridiculous. I mean it. Like, knock you flat down with pure unadulterated joy. Because they have everything--a rich chocolatey base mingled with smooth cheesecake filling, all topped with fresh summer berries, a final note inspired by my favorite dessert of all time--Triple Berry Tarts

And those chocolate chunks? Those hips don't lie. Just look at them. (Even buck naked--i.e., sans berries--these brownies tasted fabulous.)

Extra Fudgey Cheesecake Brownies | Club Narwhal

But the berries really put them over the top to Awesome City. Note the berry juice beckoning to you in a come hither manner. 

Extra Fudgey Berry Bliss Cheesecake Brownies | Club Narwhal

Yep, this is brownie seduction to the max. I'm not sorry. 

Extra Fudgey Berry Bliss Cheesecake Brownies | Club Narwhal


Makes 16 bars

For the Fudgey Chocolate Chunk Brownies
Adapted from Something Swanky
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chocolate chunks
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 9x9 baking dish with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one. In another bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. 

Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in two batches. The batter will be extremely thick--so thick that it might be hard to stir. I switched from my blender to stirring by hand. Stir in chocolate chunks and scrape batter into the baking pan. Set aside.

For the Cheesecake Layer
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature (2 bars)
  • 12 oz. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium bowl mix all ingredients together until fully incorporated. Pour over the brownie layer and bake for 40-45 minutes, until cheesecake is set (it can still be a touch wobbly in the center). Cool then refrigerate for a few hours to make cutting easier. Cut into 16 bars and top with berry bliss (recipe below).

For the Berry Bliss Topping
  • 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons instant tapioca (small pearls)
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 2 cups mixed berries. We used blackberries, blueberries, and chopped strawberries
Boil the blueberries, water, and tapioca for about 10 minutes, until tapioca is dissolved and the blueberries have thickened. You may need to add one more tablespoon of tapioca. Fold in mixed berries and spoon berries on top of cooled cheesecake brownies. 

P.S. I'm super into decadent desserts--check out my Project Yum Pinterest board for proof!

Here are a few of my favorite cheesecake and/or berry recipes:

Cake Batter Oreo Stuffed Cheesecake Bars

Cake Batter Oreo Stuffed Cheesecake Bars | Club Narwhal

Easy Dulce de Leche Cheesecake

Easy Dulce de Leche Cheesecake | Club Narwhal

Triple Berry Tarts

Triple Berry Tarts | Club Narwhal

Greek Yogurt Stuffed Berry French Toast

Greek Yogurt Stuffed Berry French Toast

Linked to Create and Share, Wonderfully Creative, Worthwhile Wednesday, Wednesday Whatsits, Wake Up Wednesdays, Whimsy Wednesday , Project Parade, Moonlight and Mason Jars, Showcase Your Talent

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos | A ridiculously easy and tasty meal! #tacos

I dream in tacos--perfectly sweet and spicy Shredded Beef Tacos, to be exact. My taco love is deep and abiding. For me, tacos mean family. Friends. Long summer nights laughing on a picnic blanket. So when a taco craving hits, it hits hard. 

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos | A ridiculously easy and tasty meal! #tacos

Our go-to taco recipe is our favorite Slow Cooker Carnitas. It is everything good in the world. But we wanted to branch out a little and try beef. We might never go back. Because when I see a gorgeous browned chuck roast, I go a little weak in the knees. I mean, behold:

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos | Beautifully browned chuck roast

Right? If you know me, you know that my tastes mirror those of a ten-year-old boy's. Pizza is my favorite food group, followed closely by french friesice cream, and chicken nuggets. In an effort to appear more like the grown up thirty-year-old that I am, I ditched my childhood ground beef tacos for these elegant (can tacos be elegant?), rich, slightly sweet tacos loaded with drool-inducing shredded beef, Warren's famous tamatillo salsa, and guacamole. 

But don't be fooled--as gorgeous and grown up as these tacos appear, they are so easy to prepare. Like the Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork, it benefits from a delicious spice rub. And while you don't have to brown the meat, doing so gives it an extra punch of something awesome and only takes about five more minutes of your time. In return, you'll get a mega dreamboat of a meal that will leave you swooning.

P.S. How pretty is the little wooden spoon we got in Peru?

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos | A ridiculously easy and tasty meal! #tacos

We served our tacos with a side of Mexican Rice from Annie's Eats. It is perfect in every way. Leftovers make great taco salads, enchiladas, and taquitos--if you happen to have any left!

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos | A ridiculously easy and tasty meal! #tacos


Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
Serves 8 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds boneless chuck roast
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced (or 1 teaspoons chipotle powder)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 ounces green enchilada sauce (we use generic store brand)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons brown sugar
  • flour or corn tortillas
  • guacamole
  • tomatillo salsa (it's at the very bottom of the linked post)
  • cojita cheese
  • lime juice
Mix chili powder, cumin, and paprika in a small bowl. Rub into the chuck roast on both sides (you might have some leftover). Add olive oil to a large nonstick pan and heat over medium-high. Sear meat for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Transfer meat to a slow cooker. 

Carefully pour the beef stock (or 1 cup water with 1 cube beef bouillon) into the hot pan. Simmer over low heat and scrape up the browned bits. Add the tomato paste and chipotle pepper. Toss in any remaining spices. Boil for 2 minutes, until slightly thickened and pour over the meat. Add onion and garlic. Cook for 6-8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.

When the meat is done, it will shred easily. Transfer the meat to a bowl and discard of the juices in the slow cooker. Shred. Fold in the enchilada sauce and brown sugar. Return meat to the slow cooker and keep on warm until ready to serve.

Obsessed with your slow cooker? Me too! 

Check out Simmer Down Now, my soup and slow cooker Pinterest board!

Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas

Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas

Perfect Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

Perfect Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Award Winning Chili Con Carne

Award Winning Chili Con Carne | A slow cooker hit!

Baked Avocado Rolls

Baked Avocado Rolls