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6 Moorish Influences to See (and Eat) in Portugal

At the top of my travel bucket list is a trip to Portugal.  I’ve tried for years to get a layover on our way to Morocco that stops in Lisbon but have been unsuccessful.  One of the first trips I plan to take once we’re settled in Marrkech is to this country. Today’s post is a guest post from Katie, a blogger who loves to travel, she believes that wherever she goes, experiencing the culture and learning about the local history makes her adventures even more delightful. You can find her on twitter @delightsomeblog. Moorish influences can be seen throughout the world – and perhaps nowhere more so than in Portugal. One of our family’s favourite destinations, Portugal is one of Europe’s oldest countries so is steeped in history. Invaded by the Moors in 711, who established a capital at Shelb – now called Silves –Arabic influences can still be seen today. In everything from some of Portugal’s biggest attractions, to the littlest …

Amanda Mouttaki6 Moorish Influences to See (and Eat) in Portugal
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Creative Gift Ideas for Adults and Kids This Eid

Gift-giving is a tradition in Moroccan, and most Islamic cultures. You wouldn’t show up at someone’s home for dinner without a small gift for the hostess or children.  For Eid-al-Fitr, and Eid-al-Adha gifts take on a more celebratory role.  In Islamic countries the practice of gift giving during these holidays is largely based on giving children gifts.  It makes the event feel festive.  For children who have fasted the entire month of Ramadan (after which we celebrate Eid-al-Fitr) this is a token, a reward for their hard work and sacrifices. I have to admit it’s just in recent years that we’ve started to make the celebration of Eids more of a “big deal” by inviting family over and having small gifts for the kids. Since we are moving in two weeks, my sister has invited us (she’s not Muslim by the way) to her house for Eid dinner. If you’re hoping to celebrate in a bigger way this year here …

Amanda MouttakiCreative Gift Ideas for Adults and Kids This Eid
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Vegetarian Moroccan Harira

For Moroccans, harira soup is a Ramadan ritual.  Every evening families sit down to bowls of steaming harira – even when daytime summer temperatures soar about the 100F mark. I love soup, but the last thing I want to do is leave my stove on for hours during the hottest part of summer. Instead, I created this quicker version to satisfy the Ramadan ritual but keep my house at a tolerable temperature. Traditional harira is made with dried lentils, dry chickpeas, rice, vermicelli noodles, a potpurri of herbs and spices, vegetables, and meat – most often lamb. If you’ve ever cooked with dry chickpeas you’ll know this part of the cooking process can take hours, just to soften the beans. I really prefer this soup without meat (but that’s kind of every food lately!), and omitting meat automatically cuts off cooking time.  My next shortcut is to use a pre-made broth. I rarely ever reach for a vegetable broth when …

Amanda MouttakiVegetarian Moroccan Harira

Sticking to Routine on the Road

It can be really hard to stick to a routine when traveling. This past weekend I was at BlogHer 13 and while I didn’t take a pass on the popcorn at a Disney premier party I attended and ate a few macarons, I really tried to make good choices. There was a lot of appetizer-style food options and instead of digging into the fried options, I went instead for protein and fruit and veggies. I also had the opportunity to interview Dr. Travis Stork from the TV show The Doctors.  I asked Dr. Stork 2 questions.  1) What are some ways you would recommend that someone who has had a gastric sleeve surgery can get enough protein without focusing on a lot of meat or relying on protein shakes.  2) I am considering skin removal surgery, what are some of the risks I should consider and make sure to ask a plastic surgeon about.  I was really excited by his …

Amanda MouttakiSticking to Routine on the Road
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East German Goulash with Caramelized Onions

I’m so happy today to be guest posting for Beate at The Not So Cheesy Kitchen. She and I met through #SundaySupper and I’ve enjoyed reading her blog ever since. Today I’m sharing a recipe for goulash. After high school, I spent some time in Dresden, the most beautiful city in Germany (my opinion of course!), and formerly a part of East Germany. I have very strong memories of eating goulash with a dumpling, though have found this dumpling impossible to recreate. Instead, I’ve just re-made the goulash pairing it with rice instead. This recipe is gluten free and dairy free (there are options to add dairy if you prefer). Step into the Not so Cheesy Kitchen for the full recipe! Pssst – I’m at BlogHer this weekend so be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to find out about all my adventures! If you happen to be at BlogHer too, I hope you’ll say hello!

Amanda MouttakiEast German Goulash with Caramelized Onions
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Freezer Meals for a Mom’s Weekend

Early this morning I jumped on a flight to Chicago to attend BlogHer 13.  If you’re not familiar with this conference, it’s the largest in the United States for female bloggers (and some men too!)  I’m anticipating 4 whirlwind days of learning, connecting, and enjoying myself. That being said, I am leaving MarocBaba to fend for himself while our boys went to spend a long weekend with grandma and grandpa.  Normally, I would leave my husband to figure out the food situation, which I’m sure would consist of a lot of take-out.  However, with it being Ramadan right now and him working a night shift all weekend, it makes things a little more difficult.   So, being the wife I am, I decided to prepare a few meals and store them in the freezer.  I tried to make things that would require very little effort to prepare, didn’t involve a ton of complicated steps (this would mean I would be …

Amanda MouttakiFreezer Meals for a Mom’s Weekend