About fqelle

Posts by fqelle:

Cherry Walnut Salad


  • 1 quart sweet cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch kosher salt


  1. In a small salad bowl, combine the cherries, walnuts, and parsley.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt until it emulsifies.

  3. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and serve immediately, or later, at room temperature.

Pita Bread Recipe


  • 3/4 cup warm water (105-110 degrees)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons or 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3 3/4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting (if needed)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoonskosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the bowl
  • 3/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt or labneh


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let the mixture sit until it’s foamy on top, about 5 minutes.

  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, combine the flour, salt, and remaining tablespoon of sugar. Add the yeast mixture, oil, and yogurt and mix to combine. Knead the dough either in the mixer or by hand on a clean work surface, adding more flour if needed, until the dough is soft and slightly sticky, 7-10 minutes.

  3. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic (not touching the dough), and let the dough rise in a warm spot until it’s doubled in size, about 2 hours.

  4. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and divide it into 12 equal balls. Cover and let rise an additional 20 minutes.

  5. Roll the balls out into circles that are 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Place them on the baking sheets an inch apart, then bake until they’re puffy and lightly browned on top (begin checking for doneness at 5 minutes).

  6. Transfer the pitas to a wire rack to cool. Enjoy!

Raspberry Rose Jelly


  • 4 quarts raspberries
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons rose water


  1. In a large, heavy pot, combine the raspberries and water. Stir constantly and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

  2. Line a fine mesh sieve with a few layers of dampened cheesecloth, set over a large bowl in the sink, and pour the raspberry mixture through, catching the juice in a large bowl. The juice should measure about 4 cups.

  3. Clean the large pot of any residual raspberry pulp and seeds. Filter the juice back into the pot, again through the sieve lined with a fresh round of dampened cheesecloth layers. Add the sugar, lemon juice, and rose water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes, then skim off the foam. Return to a boil and cook until the jelly reaches 220 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

  4. Ladle into clean jars, and close the lids tightly. Store in the refrigerator.

A Prayer for You

During Nisf-Shabaan (Laylatul Bara’ah) my daughter and I made a prayer for those we love. Below is our dua.




Grant the womb that bore me a Palace in your Jannah.


Bless the mind that carries the worry of my future with tranquility of Jannah.


Make my siblings amongst those closest to You.




Protect my loved ones from a calamity that will break their heart or a joy that will consume it.


اللهم صل علی محمد و آل محمد



Two Days, in Montreal, in November.

Why Montreal over Thanksgiving weekend?

Cheap flights, love of Europe and desire to fly North for the winter!

How to pack in just one carry-on, dress for 30o weather?

Cold, wet weather means layers and weather-proofing for rain and snow/slushies. We wore a weather proof puffer jacket (with a hood) over a light sweater and light boots that had sole grips.

For three days (including travel) we packed three outfits all of which consisted of light sweaters, tights/pants and plenty of undergarments.

We travelled the city with a backpack since we’d immediately need to take off our coats when entering a building because of how well interior climates were managed. It was easier to smush our jackets into our backpacks rather than carry them in our arms. Not to mention carrying water, protein bars/snacks are easier in a backpack than over a shoulder any day!

For hiking days or outdoor strolls, we carried instant hand warmer packets in our gloves that gave us just enough warmth to face a 2 hour hike through Mont-Royal Park.

Our DAY-by-DAY itinerary

Travel ½ days

Snack time at Tim Hortons anywhere – get the Special French Vanilla Latte and any donut item with maple flavoring!

Stroll through your local district based on where your hotel is located.

Check out the Montreal Blog to find out other places that might interest you!

Day 1

Breakfast at Spoon Café – care for a delicious coffee early morning? Check out this gem in downtown along a hilly street filled with characteristics and charm du jour.

Mid-day snack at St-Viateur Bagel – There’s a debate amongst the locals between who makes the better bagel, Fairmount Or St-Viateur? Though we only went to St-Viateur, we recommend you make the attempt at the taste test and check out both!

Lunch to go from a halal restaurant, Azir – we were on our way to parc du Mont-Royal and we came across a halal corner shop along the way. We stopped, grabbed an elaborate plate of sausages and took it to go to eat on a bench during our gratefulness walk.

Sugar Rush at Andrée Chocolats – “Chocolat Andrée is a family story, but it’s also, quite significantly, a story about women.” Check it out to try some of the best chocolate or in our case nougat our palettes have had the pleasure of tasting.

Hike through Parc du Mont Royal – to burn off those carbs of-course! Take the easier long way and enjoy a gratitude walk with a loved one or even just yourself OR challenge yourself to new heights and take the stairs…all..the..way…up! Once your reach the observation deck, you’ll be glad you did! There are cafes there where you can get an espresso or latte to warm your soul.

Dinner at C’ChoColat – Just look at their Instagram page and tell me you’re not salivating…I dare you. We ordered the L’Italienne Crepes and the Pistache Pizzazz. No regrets. None. The sugar high and crash was all very much worth it!

Day 2

Breakfast at Café Myriade – we went to the one in collaboration with Club Monaco. For those of you who know me, you’d realize that this is my equivalent of the age-old ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’. It was everything I could have dreamed of.

Stroll through RÉSO – Commonly referred to as The Underground City of Montreal, we roamed, we shopped and we snacked to our hearts content!

Lunch at a Lebanese café in the food court

Gelato Dessert from some corridor that connected to and from somewhere

Dinner at Le Taj – my man loves lamb chops. And having given me an entire afternoon of walking through an underground mall, what better way than to give him the best lamb chops in the area? The chai was meh, but the entrees and naan were entirely worth it!

Evening show of Aura Basilica Montreal – light, orchestral music and grandiose architecture combine to create a unique, three-act multimedia spectacle. All in the cathedral where Celine Dion married!

Stroll through Old Port of Montreal – walk through the historic streets of Montreal to see college students enjoy their evening among boutiques, holiday lights and historic cobblestone paths.

Yemeni Qishr AKA Cascara, Sultana, Hashara

Recently there has been a lot of attention around traditions and cultures surrounding Coffee cultivating communities. I wanted to share my knowledge of the Yemeni coffee cherry tea, Qishr, other names, how to make it, and also where to get it.

The common name

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

In Yemen, it’s referred to as Qishr, a tea made with coffee cherry husks, cinnamon, ginger or caraway.

In Ethiopia, it’s called Geshar or Hashara, and its darkly roasted until almost black, and infused in water for a longer period to create an intensely fruity brew.

In Bolivia it’s called Sultana, where they enjoy it with cinnamon, clove, and sugar.

Brew a pot of Qishr


  • 1 cup coffee husks (Qishr)
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 tsp grated ginger (substitute 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsk caraway seeds
  • sugar to taste (i used 1/4 cup)

  1. lightly grind coffee husks in a spice grinder
  2. bring 3 cups of water to boil
  3. add in all your ingredients and stir
  4. let this mixture steep for 5-6 minutes on medium-low heat over the stove
  5. strain your tea mixture
  6. serve while hot

Where to get it

Hope you enjoy your cup of Qishr tea, post your photos in the comments! i’d love to see how it turns out!


KUN Ziararat Care Package

Arbaeen 1438 (Nov 2016) I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Iraq, Karbala and Najaf, for pilgrimage.

Below are my recommended care package items that i would give someone who is going on the trip.

  • Powder washing detergent
  • Ziplock bags
  • Candy (to hand out to kids)
  • Trail mix bag (for yourself)
  • Scarf (for men or women)
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Cash

Below are maps of the Harams in Najaf and Karbala. They may come in handy when you’re trying to orient yourself amongst the crowd.



There is no real way to prepare yourself for the KUN Ziarat if you have the opportunityINSA for going. it seems like every visit , brings with it different emotions. I had to make a list of the things i am grateful for and the things i wanted to pray for including forgiveness of my sins. When i left home i was scared, not for my safety since i have always been a believer that if it is my time to go, then nothing i do would be able to stop the inevitable. The fear i was feeling had more to do with facing an Imam who knows all my sins and weaknesses as i am today. Its something that i don’t think anyone can truly get over. We simply have to face it, with open hearts and pure intensions of paying our respects in this lifetime, as that in itself is one of the greatest blessings.

When you come home, it’s an emotional ride. On the one hand, you feel energized and ready to show the world how you embody the spirit of Imam Hussain A.S.. On the other, you feel the sorrow that comes with having not been there during that battle. Not having done enough ibaadat. Not believing where you had gone and come from.

It’s a life changing experience that one should make at least once in their lifetimes and, in my opinion, early in their lives rather than later. The way it moves your soul and changes your perspective on life and every day. I hope that in reading this article, you have found the inspiration to make your trip for KUN Ziarat, that you feel emotionally ready and have packed the bare essentials. May your trip be blessed in every way.

Coffee Cupping

This week I had a wonderful experience taking a cupping class. I learned all things involved with coffee tasting from origins to roasting processes and ending with curated advice on the best coffee grinder the marketplace has to offer. I’ve captured notes and included the recommended coffee grinding machines to brew a perfect coffee.

Give up bad coffee for good!

Key roasting processes that greatly affect coffee flavor:

The Dry Method is the age-old method of processing coffee, and still used in many countries where water resources are limited. The freshly picked cherries are simply spread out on huge surfaces to dry in the sun. Depending on the weather, this process might continue for several weeks for each batch of coffee until the moisture content of the cherries drops to 11%.

The Honey Method where the skin and pulp are removed, but some or all of the mucilage (Honey) remains. Because there is a little bit of fermentation happening in the short amount of time it takes for the mucilage to dry, coffees processed in this way feature a little more acidity than Pulped Naturals (Pressure-Washed) coffees, but significantly less acidity than Washed or Natural/Dried-in-the-Fruit coffees.

The Wet Method removes the pulp from the coffee cherry after harvesting so the bean is dried with only the parchment skin left on. The beans are transported to large, water-filled fermentation tanks. Depending on a combination of factors — such as the condition of the beans, the climate and the altitude — they will remain in these tanks for anywhere from 12 to 48 hours to remove the slick layer of mucilage (called the parenchyma) that is still attached to the parchment. While resting in the tanks, naturally occurring enzymes will cause this layer to dissolve. When fermentation is complete, the beans feel rough to the touch.  The beans are rinsed by going through additional water channels, and are ready for drying.

Tasting the Coffee:

Coffee is repeatedly tested for quality and taste.  This process is referred to as cupping and usually takes place in a room specifically designed to facilitate the process.

  • First, the taster — usually called the cupper — evaluates the beans for their overall visual quality. The beans are then roasted in a small laboratory roaster, immediately ground and infused in boiling water with carefully-controlled temperature. The cupper noses the brew to experience its aroma, an essential step in judging the coffee’s quality.
  • After letting the coffee rest for several minutes, the cupper breaks the crust by pushing aside the grounds at the top of the cup. Again, the coffee is nosed before the tasting begins.
  • To taste the coffee, the cupper slurps a spoonful with a quick inhalation. The objective is to spray the coffee evenly over the cupper’s taste buds, and then weigh it on the tongue before spitting it out.

Samples from a variety of batches and different beans are tasted daily. Coffees are not only analyzed to determine their characteristics and flaws, but also for the purpose of blending different beans or creating the proper roast. An expert cupper can taste hundreds of samples of coffee a day and still taste the subtle differences between them. 

Getting the right tools:

Looking for a great burr grinder? check out these options for your home coffee station, ranging from low to high, if you’re really in to coffee that is. Baratza coffee grinders:


Interested in taking the class? Check out the Cupping Class at the Texas Coffee School.

facial tools

My Favorite Facial Tools

Facial cleansing brushes are essential to making sure your skin is thoroughly cleansed, and there are a variety of options to accommodate your skin type and your specific needs. I love facial tools because, to me, that means beautiful skin. Recently, I’ve been evaluating the difference between a manual facial brush, a Clarisonic Mia and the latest edition on the marketplace, a Foreo Luna. Here’s my quick thoughts on the tools below. I hope that this review helps you pick out the best facial tool for you whether your concerns are general face care, sensitive acne prone skin or cleansing aging skin.


Manual Facial Brush
Shiseido Shiseido Cleansing Massage Brush

I love this brush. This brush is not made to attack your skin but to gently help apply cleansers to the skin, while reaching into all the pores. It’s not supposed to make miracles, it’s supposed to get a specific job done. (Plus, it’s great for travel – it lightweight and fits right into my travel case). It foams up my cleanser, it doesn’t miss a spot. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do – give you a clean face, slightly massaged. Because it can foam up the cleansers better than a washcloth can, I use less product. When I use my professional machine, it uses more.

Clarisonic Mia

Clarisonic Mia1, 1 Speed Sonic Facial Cleansing Brush System, Electric Pink

Although I felt tempted to purchase Clarisonic’s Mia for a long time, I avoided it because I just couldn’t imagine that a rotating brush could be gentle on my skin. I was very impressed with the design of the charger. It has a magnet so that the Mia is waterproof. The brush head is very gentle on my skin. I love that the outer rim of bristles does not rotate and that it is there only to catch spatter from the inside spinning part. My face has felt much softer since I used the Mia, and the fine line across my forehead even looks less prominent. Also, I had a patch of dry skin that would not go away no matter what I did. After using the Mia a couple times, the dry patch disappeared. It helps to keep blemishes at bay, and evens out my skin tone. Also, I like that it has an automatic timer so that I do not over scrub my face. All my skincare and makeup apply so much better when I use the Mia brush. Having only one speed does not bother me at all. The size is just perfect to hold, and I would not want to handle the bigger Clarisonic. It allows my skincare to absorb into my skin beautifully, and it has not caused any adverse reactions on my skin.

Foreo Luna

The Foreo LUNA mini 2 does not tug or tear my face. I also did not find there was a “purging” stage with this product. There are 8 different settings on this device and I prefer to use one of the lowest settings. The deep vibrations definitely rid my face of makeup, dirt, and gunk. I use twice daily and it’s gentle, but highly effective. My skin is always so soft, glowing and clear. It’s very hygienic. After washing my face, I give the device a good rinse with antibacterial soap and it’s good to go for next use. Be sure to rinse it off after makeup or the foundation could stain it (I have the lightpearl pink color). I use the firmer bristles once weekly for a deep exfoliation. The battery lasts forever. I mean, forever. I charge mine monthly so it can work at maximum capacity. It gives off a pause at 15 second intervals, which alerts you to move to the next area of your face. I do cheek-cheek-nose/chin and then forehead. After the final pause I do a good sweeping motion across all of my face to make sure everything is clean. It automatically shuts off at 3 minutes so you don’t overdue it because it is very relaxing to use.
There you go, hope this information was helpful as you look at buying one for yourself.

Planning a trip to Paris?

C’est La Vie! La Vie Est Belle!

Things to do while in Paris:

Avenue des Champs-Élysées


Champs-Élysées: Wear shoes you can walk in!

Known for its theatres, cafés and luxury shops. Check out some of the great designers that are based in Paris but don’t forget to take a photo of the Arc de Triomphe. Make sure to dress well but wear comfortable shoes, its almost 2km from start to finish and that doesnt include shopping trips along the way.

Looking for a 7alaal bite on the beautiful avenue? Check out these restaurants:

  • Le Baron – Lebanese
  • Le Crystal Paris – French authentic
  • Le Butcher – Burgers
  • Paul Boulangerie et Patisserie – Bakery (try the chocolate beignets, they’re delicious!)
it's worth your weight in carbs!

Paul Boulangerie et Patisserie: it’s worth your weight in carbs!


Sacré-Cœur Basilica

Sacré-Cœur: It's a hike up and well worth the view

Sacré-Cœur: It’s a hike up and well worth the view

A popular landmark, the basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city. Make sure to take your selfie stick and/or wide angle lens because of the breathtaking panoramic views of Paris from the Sacré-Cœur Basilica.
If you’re planning to have a picnic on the stairs, check out these fares nearby:

  • Le Tricycle – A veggie hotdog street-food bike
Healthy hot dogs to go. (they do exist!)

Le Tricycle: Healthy hot dogs to go. They do exist!


Paris Museum of Modern Art

Check out these restaurants nearby:

  • Tokyo Eat – its quite popular with the Parisiens, plan to eat vegetarian if you’re searching for 7alaal


Notre-Dame Cathedral

Notre-dame: You can almost hear Victor Hugo's hunchback.

Notre-dame: You can almost hear Victor Hugo’s hunchback.

Check out these restaurants nearby:

  • Maison de Gyros – known to serve some of the best Greek and Turkish food in Paris


Palais-Royal/Cardinal Versailles museum 

Jardin du Luxembourg in the 6th Arrondissement

Fantastic garden views, children play with boats and sculptures all around - Oh My!

Fantastic garden views, children play with boats and sculptures all around – Oh My!

Pont Alexandre III Bridge

Get lost in the medieval alleys of the Latin Quarter

Latin Quarter: Enjoy the local bites at every corner while soaking in the experience of paris on foot.

Latin Quarter: Enjoy local bites while soaking in the experience of paris on foot.