Thanksgiving Warm Up – Sweet Potato Pound Cake

Title Pic

Thanksgiving is 17 days away and I thought I should start prepping for the “Big Day” lol.  Although I will return home the day before, I know that I will be in the kitchen to help my mother finish all of the cooking and baking.

One of our Thanksgiving staples is Sweet Potato pie but I thought it would be fun to put a twist to one of our favorites. And this is when I thought it would be a good idea to make a cake with the flavors we all know and love.  So, now I present to you my version of the Sweet Potato Cake.

Sweet Potato Pound Cake

1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 ½ cups sugar

4 large eggs

2 1/2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (About 4 small sweet potatoes)

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I prefer grating nutmeg for the extra freshness, notice the whole nutmeg in picture)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Sweet Potatoes

Total Time:  2 Hours, 40 Minutes

Preheat oven to 350º.  Blend cream cheese and butter with mixer at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add sugar, mix until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, until fully incorporated. Add sweet potatoes to mixture and mix well.

Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 10-inch (12-cup) bundt pan.

Bake at 350º for 1 hour and 5 minutes to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for10 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

Sweet Potato Pound Cake

So I couldn’t wait for it to cool to cut into it… It was moist and delish!  I will definitely make this again!

If you make this for your Thanksgiving dinner, let me know how it turns out 🙂


Experimenting in the Kitchen – Chicken Ghallaba

Every time I go back home to Detroit, I always go to one of my favorite Lebanese restaurants (Grape Leaves) for Lamb Ghallaba. I’ve been craving it for awhile so I decided to make my own version but with chicken.

A lot of people are not aware of the large Middle Eastern population in Southeastern Michigan or how delicious the food is! A lot of the dishes are healthy with a lot of veggies and full of flavor. This was my first time making a dish from this region and I know I will make this again with more veggies.

Chicken Ghallaba

2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks and sautéed

½ cup green pepper, sliced

½ cup red pepper, sliced

½ cup yellow pepper, sliced

1 cup onion, sliced

1 small zucchini, sliced

8 small white mushrooms, sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

1 (16 ounce) can stewed tomatoes with juice

5 tablespoons olive oil

½ tablespoon Lebanese spice blend (allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and ginger)

1⁄2 teaspoon salt and pepper (To Taste)

Here is a picture of the spice blend. I love having a cabinet full of spices to make different blends

Spice Blend

Mix the dry spices and season the chicken. (Use half the spice blend and add the rest later as desired for additional flavor.)

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a shallow skillet. Brown the chicken uncovered on medium heat for about 1 minute on each side. Remove the chicken from skillet and set aside.

Set the heat to medium-low. Add the 3 remaining tablespoons olive oil to the same skillet. When it is hot, add onions and pepper and cook till onion starts to brown.

Add remaining ingredients and spices, stir well, cover and simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes.

Make sure there is enough juice all the time. If the liquid from the tomatoes evaporates, add some hot water.

Once the dish is cooked, serve over basmati rice and enjoy!

Chicken Ghallaba

Tip – You could buy a pepper trio from the freezer aisle if you do not usually buy bell peppers

Mexican Style Chicken and Rice

Hello Everyone,

It’s been awhile since I posted something, I guess I’ve been on a “cooking strike” lol.  This dish was created after wanting something different before I got into Thanksgiving mode next week.  I mentioned to my friend Lorena that I wanted to do a “Mexican” type chicken and rice dish and she was happy to share her family’s recipe for rice.

After raiding my kitchen, I came up with this recipe.  Keep in mind that I do not have any exact measurements for the chicken because I was just throwing stuff together lol


1 lb of boneless and skinless chicken breasts or thighs (I used thighs)

Seasoning for Chicken

Onion Powder

Garlic Powder

Goya Adobo All Purpose Seasoning with Pepper

Chili Powder

Dried Cilantro

Non-stick cooking spray


1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 ½ cups of rice

2 tomatoes, small

½ onion, medium

2-3 cloves of garlic (can always add more if you like)

Heat olive oil in a medium pan and add rice to toast to brown.  Remove from heat.

Blend the tomatoes, onion and garlic in a food processor or blender into a smooth consistency (Set aside half for the chicken). Add the rice, tomato mixture and recommended water amount and cook according to package.

In a large skillet, spray and heat the skillet over a medium heat.  Once warm, add the seasoned chicken and cook for 8-10 minutes on each side.  Once the chicken is cooked and browned, remove from heat and set aside.

In the same skillet, add the remaining tomato mixture and ½ cup of water to the skillet.  Make sure you scrape the “browning” from the chicken and incorporate into the sauce.  Bring to simmer and add the chicken.  Cook for 5 mins


Dinner is now served and enjoy!

SN: Lorena said that my rice wasn’t “orange” enough, so I will make sure that I’ll add more tomatoes to the rice the next time I make the dish lol

Something Special for My Mom – Crab and Cremini Mushroom Flatbread

Hello all!  I know its been awhile since I’ve posted something but I was really tired & not motivated to create in the kitchen.  On my recent trip to New Orleans, my friend took me to a new restaurant on Magazine St,  Salú , that had a lot of small plates for happy hour.  On the menu, I saw multiple flatbreads but it was one that caught my attention, the crab and cremini mushroom.  OMG it was soo good!  I think I forgot about the other apps that we ordered lol.  I knew that I would try to make this once I got home and since Mother’s Day was approaching, I thought my mom would appreciate it.  Although, I’m making it for Mother’s Day, I know that I will be making this again 🙂


Pizza dough
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
4 – 6 oz. Mascarpone cheese
2 cloves of garlic, diced
2 oz. Garlic and Herb Cheese Spread
Italian blend cheese (up to 1 cup)
1 package of cremini mushrooms, sliced and cleaned
Crab meat, diced in chunks
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch washed and rinsed arugula

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Arrange the oven rack in the lowest position.

Roll out the pizza dough on a lightly floured surface as thinly as possible dough should be roughly 17 by 10 inches. Place on a large baking sheet. In a medium pan, add olive oil and sauté the mushrooms and garlic until soft. Drizzle lightly with the olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Mix the mascarpone and garlic & herb cheese spread. Spread the cheese mixture all over the surface of the dough. Lay the sautéed mushrooms and crabmeat all over the surface of the pizza crust. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Lightly sprinkle the italian cheese blend on top and bake the pizza until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly, 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle generously with the arugula. Cut into wedges or squares and serve.

Enjoy, because we certainly did 🙂


Shrimp Orzo with Spinach and Mushrooms

Hello all, I know its been awhile since I posted because I could not find my memory card until now and I did not want to take pics on my phone.  During this hiatus, I decided that I will only post the final product pictures instead of “step by step” pics. Now with that said, time for the new recipe.

This dish was actually inspired by my sister, which is very surprising if you know our sisterly dynamic lol.  Growing up, our mother would always tell people that I was the cook and my sister was the cleaner.  We pretty much “stayed in our lanes” but one day while visiting, she cooked a dish with orzo and it was actually delicious.  I eventually asked for the recipe but of course I changed some things to make it my own.


2 tablespoons butter

1 cup uncooked orzo pasta

1 ¾ to 2 cups of chicken broth (depends on personal preference)

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 package of mushrooms, sliced

1 bag of baby spinach, chopped

1 tablespoon of Mrs. Dash

Shrimp, cooked, deveined and tail off

salt and pepper to taste

Olive Oil

  • Melt butter in heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in orzo and garlic, and sauté until lightly browned.
  • Stir in chicken stock and bring to boil. Cover. Reduce heat and simmer until orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15 – 20 minutes.
  • In a separate skillet, add olive oil to sauté mushrooms and once they are soft, add the spinach.  Cook until spinach is wilted and remove from heat
  • Mix in shrimp, spinach, mushrooms and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper and top with cheese

Serve and enjoy!


I added shredded carrots for texture and color, so feel free to omit if you are not a fan

Tip: If you are a vegetarian, you can substitute the chicken broth with a vegetable broth.  And feel free to add any protein or extra vegetables, it is important to tailor to your taste and experiment

Fiesta Style Stuffed Peppers


A couple weeks ago, my friend Arriel invited me over for dinner and drinks.  I was pleasantly surprised when she prepared her version of stuffed peppers.  She wanted to do something new and different and thought it would be nice to have a “Mexican style” peppers. At first, I thought she meant jalapeño peppers and not bell peppers lol.  Since it was my first time having her food, I was a little skeptical (lol) but it was very delish and I told her that I would make it my own and blog about it 🙂

I made this during my girls night and because I was too busy playing host, I was not able to take step by step pictures 😦


6 Red Bell Peppers, cut lengthwise, cleaned and seeds removed

1 lb Ground Turkey

1 can of black beans, drained

1 package of taco seasoning

Mild fire roasted chilies, chopped (If you want more heat, add the hot chilies or jalapeno peppers)

Monterrey Jack Cheese, shredded

Sour cream, optional

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper


Preheat the oven to 370 degrees F.

Halve the bell peppers lengthwise and remove the seeds. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Place the peppers cut-side down on a cookie sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Combine the mixture. Spoon the filling into the peppers and top with cheese.

Bake until heated through and the tops are browned, about 20 minutes. And Enjoy!

Hindsight: The filling can be refrigerated for a make-ahead meal. Bring to room temperature before baking

Chicken Broccoli Bake

This dish was introduced to me during my undergrad years at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!).  I know that my fellow Wolverines can agree when I say that the dorm food was not the best BUT when it was Chicken Broccoli Bake night, the cafeteria was packed lol.  People laugh when I tell them that this was one of the few dishes that helped me get through school.  Of course there are many variations of this recipe but this is my version of my fav.  It is easy to make and I’m sure that people will love it.


3-4 chicken breasts, cut into strips or chunks

1 can of cream of chicken

1 can of cream of mushroom

1 package of frozen broccoli florets

1 cup of uncooked rice

Since I usually do not measure the seasonings, this is a “guesstimate” and of course you can add more or less

~1 cup of Water ( I usually fill one of the cans with water)

1 tablespoon of Mrs. Dash (Table Blend)

1 tablespoon of Onion Powder

2 teaspoons of Seasoning Salt

Black Pepper



In a baking dish, combine water, 2 cans of soup, and seasonings.

Once everything is mixed well, add the rice and then broccoli and stir.

Lay chicken on top and season well. Cover with aluminum foil.


Bake at 375°F. for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender.




Chai Tea Oatmeal Cookies

So I’ve been on a Chai tea kick lately.  I have at least 3 different kinds at my apartment and in my office.  While looking on Pinterest (my new addiction lol), I saw there were a lot of recipes for Chai cupcakes but I wanted cookies.  After looking at what ingredients I had in the kitchen, I decided to create an oatmeal cookie with my Chai tea. I thought it would be an interesting cookie to make especially for the holidays.  So here we go…

Yield: 3 dozen cookies


3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2½ teaspoons kosher salt

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

¾ cup dark brown sugar

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

2 cups rolled oats (I’m using the quick oats)

2 bags of chai tea

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Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

Add the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat together on medium speed until the butter mixture is light/creamy for about 5 minutes.

Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix until combined.

Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the flour mixture and blend just until combined.

Turn off the mixer and fold in the oats and the chai tea, mixing just until combined.




Scoop twelve  balls of the cookie dough onto a baking sheet and bake until the cookies are golden around the edges, about 10 minutes.


Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set the cookies aside to cool for 5 minutes. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough.



Hindsight – Its been awhile since I made cookies, so I had to add an extra egg (I originally used two) because of the amount of flour added.

Also, I think that I’m going to add the chai spices instead of the tea next time

I did not originally intend to bake 3 dozen, but that’s all a part of experimenting in the kitchen.  You learn and enjoy your “miscalculations/mistakes” lol

Claire’s Quick & Easy Crawfish Etouffee

This is a recipe that I received from my amazingly gracious, Louisiana born and bred friend Claire who is actually visiting from New Orleans (You can tell that she wrote that sentence lol). I was so happy when she came with a “care package” from Louisiana, with items I cannot purchase in the DMV area. Of course I had to cook some crawfish as soon as possible 🙂

This is a simple yet delicious etouffee that does not require a roux however has all of the flavor of a “from scratch” recipe. If you do not have access to crawfish, feel free to use shrimp.


1 pound of peeled crawfish (but you can substitute shrimp if you want)

1 stick of butter

½ onion, chopped

½ green bell pepper, chopped

½ red bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 can of Campbell’s Golden Mushroom soup


Cayenne Pepper, ground

Cajun Seasoning


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Melt stick of butter in pan

Add onion, bell peppers (green and red), and garlic to pan and sauté until onions are translucent and starting to brown, reduce to medium heat.


Add crawfish tails to pan and allow to cook for 5-7 minutes


Add Campbell’s Golden Mushroom soup, followed with 1 can of water and stir. Cover pan and allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Serve with hot rice and enjoy


Chicken Linguine in a White Wine Cream Sauce

As I stated in my oxtail post, I’ve been going to a lot of wineries lately and of course I’ve been acquiring various wines.  Its nothing like pairing a good wine with a delicious meal and its even better when you can add a little in your dish.  A couple of weeks ago, I went to a winefest in Southern Maryland with my friends and it was good to try wines from local vineyards.  It was one vineyard that stuck out, Boordy Vineyards which is located outside Baltimore.  I think I loved almost all of their wines but since I’ve been wanting to make a pasta dish soon, I decided to ask an employee which one would be best for a white cream pasta and he insisted that I’d get their Riesling. Its been awhile since I had spinach linguine, so after picking some up at store, I was inspired to make this dish.

Pics from the Sotterley Winefest

Disclaimer: As I was preparing for this post, I could not locate my camera.  With that said, I was not able to take step by step pics because I was not sure of the quality of my camera phone and thought it might slow me down lol.


1 pint of heavy whipping cream

½ tablespoon of poultry seasoning

½ tablespoon of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

Cayenne Pepper (adjust to taste)

¼ teaspoon of white pepper

¾ cup of white wine (I used Boordy Vineyard’s Riesling)

1 teaspoon of Mrs. Dash

½ teaspoon of Parsley flakes

2 garlic cloves, chopped

½ shallot, chopped

Linguine (I used spinach linguine)

2 Chicken Breasts

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Cook linguine according to package and set aside

Mix spices together thoroughly.  Season chicken with ½ spice mixture and heat a large pan with olive oil.

Lightly brown both sides of the chicken.  Add shallots and onions and sauté for about 4-5 minutes until the shallots become translucent

Add the wine and cook for an additional 2 minutes

Lower heat and add cream and ½ spice mixture.  Cook to thicken by simmering for 20-25 minutes

Add pasta to pan and enjoy!

I topped the dish with grated parm

Looking back – I used less spices/seasonings than what I stated before, so I changed the recipe for you by “upping” the amounts slightly.  The next time I make this, I will add mushrooms to it 🙂