Crispy Quinoa Cakes and Arugula Fig Salad

Quinoa is not only a fad food. I believe it is here to stay in the Western markets. It is so versatile and delicious. Oh, it is also healthy :D. It is packed with protein and is gluten free. It is a very filling grain that mainly comes from Peru and Ecuador. It absorbs flavors well and is not only great accompaniment to a meal, but also can be the main attraction!

These quinoa cakes are crunchy, flavorful and pair beautifully with this salad. The peppery notes of arugula balance out the sweetness of the fruits and the saltiness of the feta cheese creates a perfect harmony of flavors. A must try! ๐Ÿ™‚



Here is my recipe:

Makes 8 cakes

3 cups cooked quinoa

1/2 cup bell pepper, finely chopped

1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped

2 eggs

3/4 cup bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil, for cooking

ย quinoa ingredients

For the salad:

2 1/2 cups arugula

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

5 ripe figs

1/4 cup blueberries

1/2 cup feta cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil

juice of 1 lemon



1. Combine cooked quinoa, breadcrumbs, bell pepper and shallots in a bowl. Add in eggs. Using the best tool in your kitchen, combine the ingredients. Allow to set.



2. Form mixture into 8 even patties. Use approximately half cup of mixture per patty. Allow to rest.


3. Heat olive oil in large skillet. Cook quinoa cakes on medium heat until browned and a crispy outer crust is formed. About 7 minutes on each side.ย  Allow to rest on paper towels (which will absorb the excess oil).


4. To make the salad, mix together 1 tablespoon olive oil and juice of one lemon. Toss arugula in dressing. Arrange on plate and top with tomatoes, figs, blueberries and feta cheese.

5. Slice quinoa cakes and arrange on top of salad. Or serve along side the salad.

quinoa cakes

6. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

Quinoa Cakes and Arugula Salad

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Summer Pizza

If you follow me on Instragram, you know I have a cherry tomato plant, a love for farmers markets and tomatoes. I love fresh tomatoes. When I came home one evening and found that my tomato plant out grew the planter it was in, I knew I had to pick the tomatoes that remained on the plant and make something delicious. As per usual, Hussein suggested a pasta or pizza dish, so that is where I went. You can’t go wrong with pizza, can you?

This recipe makes enough dough for 2, 12inch pizzas. I prepared one with the recipe below and the other with a traditional pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese. This cream cheese spread is SO good. It would be great as a dip served with a sliced up baguette and veggies.

If you are like my sister Mona and do not like tomatoes, feel free to choose a different topping! Use any toppings you like and leave out the ones you don’t. Cooking should be fun! Make something you and your peeps will enjoy ๐Ÿ˜€


Here is my recipe:



3 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 cup warm water

1 egg, beaten

ย pizza2 pizza prep

For the tomato topping:

1 8oz package of cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup greek yogurt

1 1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup red onion, finely sliced

1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Zest and juice of one lemon

pizza7 pizza5


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Combine yeast and water in bowl. Allow to sit for a few minutes.

3. Sift flour, sugar and salt together. Using the bread hook attachment on your mixer, combine yeast and water with flour mixture. Add in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Allow to mix until a dough is formed.

pizza dough

4. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Pour 1 teaspoon olive oil in large bowl. Place dough in bowl and cover with damp cloth. Place in warm, dark place (I use the inside of my oven) and allow to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

ย pizza22

5. Cut dough into two equal pieces. Roll on piece into a round on a floured surface. Place on pre-warmed pizza stone or pan.


6. Brush edge of pizza crust with beaten egg. Poke holes into the dough using a fork. This will prevent air bubbles. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.


7. While pizza crust is baking, make the topping. Mix together cream cheese, lemon zest and juice, dill, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.


Cream cheese topping

8. Remove pizza from oven. Evenly spread cream cheese mixture onto pizza crust. The warmth of the pizza will help melt the cream cheese and make it easier to spread.

9. Top pizza with tomatoes and red onions.

10. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

Summer Pizza by Amanda's Plate



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Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

The weather,the shorter days and the calender is telling me that summer is almost at an end. Summer always seems to fly by. Did you do anything fun this summer?

We had many fun adventures around the Pacific North West, including berry picking, hiking up Mt. Si and swimming in Lake Quinault. Hussein completed graduate school after an intense 18 months of full time work and a demanding MBA program. And I of course started my blog ๐Ÿ™‚

Before the end of this warm, sunny, Bar-B-Q season, I thought I would share a simple steak recipe with an earthy, fresh chimichurri sauce.ย It is so quick, easy and satisfying that it makes the perfect week nightย dinner.


Here is my recipe:


A good cut of steak, I used strip steak

Generous pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper


For the sauce:


1 large clove garlic

1/4 cup fresh parsley

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons oregano

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup vinegar



1. Season both sides of steak with salt and pepper. Heat grill or grill pan. Place steak on pan. cook for approximately 3-4 minutes on each side. (I cook mine to medium rare, cook longer for medium to medium well)


2. In food processor pulse together parsley, cilantro, garlic and oregano. Slowly drizzle in olive oil and vinegar.


3. Allow meat to rest for five minutes before cutting. (I know it is tempting to just cut right in, but the juices will all be lost if you are impatient). Cut against the grain and serve with chimichurri sauce.


4. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

steak steakI served with oven roasted potatoes and green beans!

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Fiesta Chopped Salad

I am very much enjoying all of summers succulent fruit and vegetables. I have been fortunate enough to be able to go to many local farmers markets and buy the freshest of this seasons harvest.

As I looked at my fridge and pantry looking for inspiration for dinner, I decided I need to use as many vegetables as possible. As you already know from my guacamole post, I love Mexican cuisine. I came up with this easy, filling, flavor packed chopped salad with a cool avocado lime dressing. My husband, who typically does not consider a salad “dinner”, was full and satisfied with this one. ๐Ÿ™‚

Feel free to add or omit any of the ingredients. Cooking should be fun and you should create something you will enjoy!


Fiesta Chopped Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 2 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions
  • ½ cup chopped bell pepper
  • ½ cup corn
  • ½ cup tomatoes
  • ½ cup black beans
  • 1 cup tortilla chips or strips
  • ¼ pound strip steak, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon each garlic powder, cumin, black pepper, paprika and salt
  • ¼ cup Mexican blend cheese
Avocado Lime Dressing
  • 1 large avocado
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Combine steak with garlic powder, cumin, paprika, black pepper and salt. Cook in olive oil. Sprinkle cheese over top. Set aside.
  2. In food processor, blend together avocado, sour cream, cilantro, lime juice and salt until smooth.
  3. Chop vegetables. Drain beans.
  4. Arrange veggies and meat on plate. Toss with dressing before serving.
  5. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

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Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Year after year, one of the top ice cream flavors in the United States is mint chocolate chip. And frankly, this is rarely my choice for ice cream. I much prefer chocolate chip cookie dough, good ole plain vanilla or something fruity like mango or strawberry. I do however, love those mint chocolate Girl Scout cookies and Andes mints. I was at Target when I came across a section devoted to M&M’s. They had more flavors than I could remember. I gravitated towards the mint flavored ones and decided they would make for a great cookie ingredient!


Here is my recipe:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup softened butter

3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 sugar brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons mint extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 11.4 oz bag Mint M&Ms

1 cup dark chocolate chips



1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream together butter and sugars. Add in egg, one at a time. Mix until smooth. Mix in mint extract and vanilla extract.

2. Sift flour, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt. Combine with wet ingredients, until well incorporated. Stir in Mint M&Ms and chocolate chips. mint 1

3. On lined baking sheet, spoon 1 tablespoon batter a few inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until done.

mint 2

4. Cool on baking rack.

5. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

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Very berry blueberry cheesecake

One of my favorite days in elementary school, was always book fair day. We would receive a thin paper catalog of the Scholastic books that would be available, a few weeks prior to the day of the fair. I would hurry home to tell my parents which books I wanted to get. There were a lot of extra chores done in the weeks and days leading up to the book fair. I wanted to be sure to have enough money to get all the books, pencils and stickers I wanted.

During the fourth grade book fair, I decided to buy a cook book. This was the first time that I had selected a cook book to purchase. My mom had many cook books at home and being the book worm I was, I would always select a chapter book when we went to the library or book store.

One recipe in particular has stuck with me since that time and that is the cheesecake recipe. That cookbook is long gone, but my first cheesecake remains.

The recipe has evolved a ton through the years, especially after The Cheesecake Factory displayed their rich, decadent desserts, using far more cream cheese then anyone used back in the day.


Here is my recipe:

4, 8oz packages of cream cheese, room temperature

1 1/2 cups white sugar

4 eggs

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 tablespoon vanilla

pinch of salt


2 1/2 cups finely ground graham crackers

4 tablespoons butter, melted


1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 cup blueberriescheesecake 9




1. Wrap 9 inch spring form pan with heavy aluminum foil. Be sure that the entire pan is covered in the foil and that there are no openings to the pan.

2. Combine graham cracker crumbs and meltedย  butter. Using back of measuring cup, press crumbs onto sides of your pan.

cheesecake 1

3. Bake crust in 325 degree oven for 10 minutes. This will help the crust set, so it remains firm when the cheesecake bakes. Place spring form pan onto a large cookie sheet and surround with 3 cups of water. This is called a water bath and will help contain moisture in your oven so the cheesecake does not crack.

4. Mix cream cheese on low setting until smooth. Add in sugar, vanilla and salt. Add in eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Mix in flour.

ย cheesecake 3

5. Pour batter into pan and bake at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes, until top is firm and slightly golden.

6. Allow cheesecake to come to room temperature and then rest in the fridge for a minimum of 4-6 hours.

7. For cream topping, whisk together heavy cream, sour cream and powdered sugar. Spread onto top of cheesecake and arrange your favorite fruit.

8. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

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Birthday Cake Recipe

We recently celebrated my husband, Hussein’s birthday. The day of his birth fell on a weekday, so we decided to wait for the weekend to celebrate. We went out to an Italian restaurant, Rione XII, an Ethan Stowell Restaurant in the Capital Hill neighborhood of Seattle. After a wonderful dinner, we headed home and enjoyed the delicious birthday cake I made. Hussein requested a vanilla cake topped with fruit and a light whipped frosting for the second year in a row (I am guessing this is his favorite). It is super fun to layer on the colorful, ripe summer fruit.


There are many steps to this recipe, but the end result is totally worth it. What better way to show someone you love them, then with something home made and delicious?


Here is my recipe:

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 cup milk

3/4 cup vegetable oil

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups flour

pinch of salt

cake prep

For frosting:

1 pint heavy whipping cream

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

cake 22

For the glaze:

1 tablespoon corn starch

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup sugar


Assortment of fruits and 1/2 cup sliced almonds.

fruit toppings


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together sugar and oil. Add eggs in one at a time. Add in milk and vanilla extract; mix well.

2. Sift flour, salt and baking powder. Add to egg mixture. Mix until incorporated.

*It is very important that you do not over mix the batter.

3. Pour batter into two greased and parchment lined 8 inch cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.

4. Allow cakes to cool. While the cakes are cooling, begin to make the icing

5. Using a mixer, whip together powdered sugar, vanilla and heavy cream until stiff (this takes 10 minutes or so). Scoop a generous scoop of icing on first tier of cake. Add 1 cup sliced strawberries, or other fruit of your liking. Be sure to cut the fruit evenly so you have a smooth leveled surface. cake

6. Place second cake on top of first cake and filling. Add the remaining icing and smooth (this does not have to be perfect as it will be covered with fruit and almonds).

cake 9

There is a new trend of “naked cakes” that look similar to the picture above. Feel free to stop here if you’re all trendy and such ๐Ÿ™‚

7. Press sliced almond onto the sides of the cake, so they stick.

cake 12

8. Find the center of the cake (I used my bench scarper to do this) and begin arranging fruit in a design that you like.

cake 14

cake 13

9. Time to make the glaze. Combine the lime juice concentrate, sugar, corn starch and fresh lime juice. Whisk until smooth. Simmer until thickens.

10. Using pastry brush, brush on glaze.

cake 19

11. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

cake 20

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Lebanese Tabouli Recipe

Tabouli is a Middle Eastern dish that originated in the mountains of Lebanon and Syria. It is generally served cold, as part of a mezze platter. I love make a large bowl of tabouli and enjoying it on a picnic during the hot summer months.ย 

lebanese tabouli

Seattle has experienced a bit of a heat wave over the past few weeks, making it impossible to use your oven. Okay, according to the National Weather Service what we have experienced would notย  be consider a heat wave; but it sure feels like it to me. Did you know that most homes in the Puget Sound do not have central air conditioning? Well neither did I. It was on a 90 degree afternoon in July that I discovered our condo did not have air conditioning.ย  Along with the rest of the city, we went to Bed, Bath and Beyond to purchase a cooling device.

Using ripe but firm tomatoes is important, to ensure they are able to hold their shape ๐Ÿ™‚ In the Lebanese version of this dish, there is more parsley than bulgur wheat. Ratios vary across the region. Feel free to put your own spin on this favorite!ย 


Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
  • 3 cups curly parsley leaves, stems discarded
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • ½ cup fine bulgur wheat
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Romaine lettuce, for serving
  1. Make dressing by combining lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  2. In a medium size bowl, pour dressing over the bulgur wheat in order for it to soften.
  3. Using a food processor, pulse parsley until fine.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together parsley, tomatoes, mint and green onions. Toss with bulgur wheat.
  5. Serve with romaine lettuce.
  6. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚








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Blueberry mango muffins

After our fun, blueberry picking adventure, I was left with a ton of blueberries. Using many of the berries in my mini blueberry pies (, we still had an overwhelming about of berries. I love a good blueberry muffin, but those get boring. I found some beautiful mangoes at the local grocer and decided to pair them with the blueberries in a muffin inspired by the flavors of the tropics. The streusel topping is the icing on this cake! These muffins are so large and delectable, they remind me of something from a bakery.

Don’t like mangoes or blueberries? Feel free to substitute for your favorite summer fruits.


Here is my recipe:

Makes 1 dozen large muffins



For the muffin

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour + 1 tablespoon flour

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup milk

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 cup mango, diced into small cubes

3 tablespoons sweetened coconut flakes

blueberry mango muffins

For the streusel topping

1/2 cup flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature, cubed

3 tablespoons sweetened coconut flakes



Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1. Mix together 1 3/4 cup flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Mix in oil, milk, egg and vanilla. DO NOT OVER MIX, unless you want tough flat muffins.

2. Toss blueberries in 1 tablespoon flour. This will help them to be evenly dispersed throughout the muffin and not sink to the bottom. bb muffin 3

3. Gently fold in blueberries, mangoes and coconut.

4. Line muffin tin or spray with non-stick cooking spray. I found these fun liners at Target. paper liner5. Using an ice cream scoop, distributed batter into the muffin tin.

6. Time to make the yummy topping! Using a fork, mix together the flour, sugar, butter and coconut flakes, until it crumbles. Sprinkle on top of the muffins.

7. Bake on the middle rack, in the preheated 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

8. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

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Mango Arugula Salad

Looking for a delicious summer salad? This mango arugula salad topped with cilantro lime vinaigrette is a must! The sweetness of the mangoes and tomatoes compliments the peppery flavor of the arugula so well. Want to make this a meal? Top with your favorite grilled chicken or shrimp!


Here is the recipe:



2 ripe mangoes, cubed

1 cup tomato, cubed (One medium tomato is โ‰ˆ 1 cup)

1/2 diced red onion

5 cups arugula


1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1/4 cup toasted walnuts

2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese



1. Prepare vinaigrette by combining lime juice, chopped cilantro, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

2. Mix together mango, tomato and red onion in a small bowl. Pour vinaigrette over the mixture.

3. Arrange greens on plate and top with mango tomato mixture, goat cheese and walnuts.

4. Enjoy!


*Don’t like arugula? Substitute spinach or mixed greens.

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