Archive | March, 2012

Amanda’s School Birthday Treats

30 Mar


Just a snapshot of what I took for my kids at school on my birthday (waaaaay back on March 15.) I was trying to find a cake or some kind of big pastry item to take for them, but like most things in Egypt, that ended up being much too difficult. So I bought a huge tin of chocolate truffles, a few Todos (huge HoHo cake type things) for my teacher friends and a bag of Mars bars (which are my favorite chocolate candy bar here.)


I got to have a genuine Egyptian school birthday party! During the last 30 minutes of my KG class, I busted out the truffles, todos and chocolates, was sung to in Arabic and English and got to make all my kids happy with candy. I wasn’t planning on really taking anything to my newly acquired Primary 4 class, seeing as I don’t really like them (no joke,) but I was feeling kind. Sadly, I ran out of chocolates, so before heading upstairs for class, I ran to the store cantina and bought 20 LE worth of Chipsee, or the national brand of chips here. I promised my class that if they all behaved and we got through the necessary chapters in our book, we could have a birthday party. They sort of behaved, and I handed out plates and chipsee to share. My best students got the four remaining Mars bars. 


Another interesting and slightly off Egyptian experience, nonetheless. 


Sweet Spinach Pastry Enchiladas

24 Mar

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This was an interesting endeavor. I bought pastry sheets about a month ago, in addition to spinach, with the intention of making sambousek. Days passed though and I craved Mexican food instead. Feeling hungry tonight for a medley of flavors, this was the end result.


  • Pastry sheets
  • One egg
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • Two cups of spinach
  • One cup mozzarella cheese
  • Salt, Pepper, curry powder, garlic powder onion powder, salt, pepper, basil, ginger powder



  • Place butter, one egg, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a sauce pan; stir until all is melted together.
  • Lay out four pastry sheets in a shallow pan and allow to reach room temperature
  • In a bowl, combine spinach, cheese, a sprinkling of olive oil and all spices. Mix well.
  • Lay one tablespoon full of mixture on top of each pastry sheet
  • Lay one pastry sheet on top of mixture (which is laying on top of first pastry sheet.
  • Roll up like a tortilla (so it looks like a triangle), place in pan
  • Pour butter, egg, olive oil and spices mixture on top of filled pastries
  • Bake in oven on high for about 30 minutes until pastry is golden brown and crispy.
  • Eat and enjoy!

Homemade Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

24 Mar

Imagee completely obsessed with dipping. Everything. Into everything. 

  • Pizza into ranch and barbecue
  • Toast into egg yolk, jamand peanut butter
  • French fries into ketchup (Amanda only), BBQ, ranch, honey mustard
  • Sandwiches into soup
  • Fingers into any tasty sauce we can find.

So, basically, we love a good sauce. When we discovered our now favorite restaurant called Crave (on 218 Street in Maadi), we not only discovered an amazing restaurant, but amazing honey mustard. We decided we needed to have it all the time at home, seeing as we can only afford to go to Crave about once a month. 

Also it should be mentioned that Egypt doesn’t really sell honey mustard. Or a lot of basics. (Or if they do sell versions of these basics like honey mustard, ranch and BBQ sauce, they are….not so great. That is why we have also resorted to making our own ranch sauce, using Hidden Valley Ranch packets sent by our families. But that is another entry for another day. Ranch dressing, Brandan and Amanda could be its own novel.)

But anyway. Amanda discovered a honey mustard recipe online, added a few variations and tada! Homemade honey mustard for all of our dipping needs. Most recently, it was used this morning on our “salami, egg, lettuce and gouda” sandwiches.

Honey Mustard Recipe Ingredients: 

  • Four tablespoons mayonnaise
  • One tablespoon yellow mustard
  • One tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • Three tablespoons honey
  • Dash of sugar

Mix all in a bowl and slather on everything!*



*Probably not so great for our diet. Everything in moderation though…

2-Minute Cucumber, Red Pepper and Tomato Salad

24 Mar

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In an attempt to eat more healthy snacks and try and take advantage of all the fresh, readily available fruits and veggies, I present to you a delicious, easy salad.

I first created this with my mom while she visited in January and it took all of two minutes to make.

  • Buy several tomatoes, cucumbers and red peppers from local veggie stand down the street
  • Clean well!
  • Cut  all into small pieces (I usually use two cucumbers (which are smaller here in Egypt), two tomatoes and one red pepper)
  • Put into bowl
  • Add sprinkling of olive oil, apple cider vinegar
  • Add dashes of cinnamon powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, curry and sugar.
  • Add a sprinkling of feta cheese on top if you’re feeling feisty, or a cube of cheese on the side
  • Eat with a fork and feel refreshed and delicious.

Birthdays in Egypt

24 Mar


This is a birthday cake for a four year old in Egypt. Needless to say, it’s kind of ridiculous.

A) What four year old likes kiwi, pineapple or loads of fruit?

B) What four year old can fit any of this into their mouth without half of it falling on the ground?

C) What four year old can hold a plate weighed down by this amount of frosting, fruit and general nonsense?

The answer to these questions is: Egyptian children. Sort of. Or at least their parents think so. About once a month, I play host to a birthday party in my KG1 classroom. My kids are turning 4 or 5 and their parents want to make a show out of it.

Now, I had my share of birthday parties at school in the U.S., but that meant bringing a tray of cupcakes that we ate towards the end of the day. Or, my mom would make a Betty Crocker cake or two and bring them in to split up amongst whoever came on the last half day before spring break. (March 15 is one of those “inconvenient”birthday times when all your friends are already on vacation for spring break.) I digress.

But in Egypt, a child’s in-class birthday means the following.

  •  A cake (or two or three) the size of said child celebrating their birthday.
  • A “side dish” of mini pizzas, chipsee (the national and omnipresent chip company here), cheese rolls or bags of candy (bon bons.)
  • A separate cake for the teachers (including me, the assistant, all of the other KG teachers and their assistants, the Arabic, music and PE teacher and Ms. Boni, the overseer of all things KG.)
  • Plates, forks, napkins and a massive knife to cut said cakes.
  • Roman candles (not really, but they bring in candles that do wild tricks and are potentially classified as fireworks in the U.S.)
  • Party favors. These can be any one of the following: a glitter pinata, balloons, pens with balloons on the end, various noisemakers, bubbles, silly spray, fake snow, straight up glitter for kids to throw around, etc. It is all very messy, noisy and probably most of these things are not meant to be handled by people under the age of 10. Much less by three year olds.

Birthday are a major deal in Egypt, but after all the show and pounds of cake brought in, none of it tastes good. These are the kinds of cakes that are of course beautiful, but absolutely disgusting! Too much sugar, too much frosting, too much display chocolate, too many “gold” flecks, too much fruit jelly, too much sugared fruit, too much cream, etc. Just too much.

In the end, I will take my small homemade Betty Crocker cake, topped with a jar of cream cheese frosting and a simple candle instead of the horse and pony show that is an Egyptian child’s in-class birthday party.

Homemade Pizza & Carrot Soup

21 Mar

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This soup was inspired by Ms. Boni, who is the ruler of all thing KG at Amanda’s school. While Amanda’s mom was in Cairo, we were lucky to have dinner at Ms. Boni’s where she made us her version of Mac and Cheese and her famous carrot soup.

Having loved it so much, and having just bought our blender (!) we were excited to give it a whirl ourselves.

See this link for our pizza recipe:

Carrot Soup:

We hit up the veggie stand and got three potatoes and a kilo of carrots

-Peel carrots and one potato and chop into cubes

-Boil until all are soft

-Place in blender and gently puree

-Add one cup of hot water

-Add one bullion cube

-Add salt, pepper, a dash of curry powder, onion powder and cinnamon

-Serve piping hot in a big bowl.

The natural carrot taste is delightful, and the potato works to thicken up the soup. This needs very little seasoning and works as a great side dish or main course. I just bought some more carrots and am looking forward to making it again this weekend!

Alexandria Food Highlights

21 Mar

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This trip took place in February and included Amanda and her mom. After sampling (or rather gorging) at The Fish Market, it was a refreshing treat to stumble upon a beach-side cafe across from the Alexandria Library that featured this kiwi smoothie. AKA The Best Smoothie Ever.

We keep trying to recreate it at home with our blender and freshly bought kiwis, but it turns out Brandan may be allergic to them (tingly lips and mouth?) and it just isn’t as good without a beach in front of you. Alas, it’s a gorgeous looking drink, and simply delightful on the tongue. Can’t wait to go back to this cafe with Brandan’s grandparents and Dad in April!