Homemade Shawarma Spice Mix

Homemade Shawarma Spice Mix

Shawarma is a typical Middle Eastern street food that’s sold on street corner kiosks, fast food joints, and restaurants in Middle Eastern countries and beyond.

It’s sort of similar to the Greek Gyro but is seasoned with different spices and allowed to marinate for at least a few hours.  It’s usually cooked very much like the Turkish Doner Kebab which is a cone of mixed meats (beef, lamb, and chicken) cooked on a vertical spit.  Typically it’s served as a Shawarma Sandwich which is pita bread stuffed with shaved meat, tahini sauce, and fresh and pickled veggies.  It can also be served as a plate with rice, salad, hummus, and pita bread.

Today most Middle Eastern restaurants and fast food places serve specific shawarma meats such as beef or chicken shawarma in a sandwich or as a plate.  Needless to say both are very popular in our family!

But the real secret to Shawarma isn’t the meat or the way it’s cooked.  The secret lies in the spices used.  You can make shawarma in your oven, grill, and even in your Instant Pot.  In fact I always make it in my Instant Pot!  I’m working on an article to share how to make Beef Shawarma in an Instant Pot; but before I can make any type of shawarma using any method I have to season the meat!

I’m actually a big believer in spice rubs.  I make all sorts of rubs for different things such as my Basic BBQ Chicken Rub. I mean sauces are great for adding flavor to meat after it’s cooked, but what really gives meat great flavor are rubs and marinades.  So if you want to make homemade shawarma that tastes like you ordered it from a Middle Eastern restaurant you’ll need this Shawarma Spice Mix.

I usually mix up a large batch; large meaning enough mix to fill a  quart sized Mason Jar.  I store my Shawarma Spice Mix in a sealed jar in my pantry, it stays fresh for about 3 months, assuming you don’t use it all before then!  The spice mix can be used for beef or chicken shawarma and can even be added to other recipes when you’re wanting to add a touch of exotic flavorings.

To use the mix as a marinade for shawarma I use a teaspoon of mix per pound of meat.  Combine the mix with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar, and a pinch of salt then massage it on to the meat.  Place the meat in a ziplock bag and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours but no longer than 24 hours.

So scroll down for the Shawarma Spice Mix recipe!

This post contains affiliate links.

 


Shawarma Spice Mix
Print Recipe
Shawarma Spice Mix
Print Recipe
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Mix all spices together in a large bowl
  2. Transfer spice mix to a mason jar
  3. Place jar lid on tightly and store in a cool dry place
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

Sweet Potato Pie – Old Fashioned Comfort Food

Every year at Thanksgsweet potato pieiving I like to try something new to add to our Thanksgiving dinner menu.  If we like it then it becomes a permanent addition to our traditional meal.

This year my grandson Dion and I decided to try our had at a Southern Thanksgiving meal staple, Sweet Potato Pie.  I’ve never actually had Sweet Potato Pie, but Dion loves it.  He says it’s his favorite pie, specially the way his grandmother from Atlanta makes it.

Sweet Potato Pie is a Southern specialty that can be served instead of or beside the traditional Pumpkin Pie which graces just about everyone’s Thanksgiving dessert table.

So we searched online for a Sweet Potato Pie recipe; we found hundreds!  Each one touting that it was the best of course.  Well we experimented with a couple of different recipes and relied on Dion’s recollections of watching his Southern grandma make her pies.  In the end by tweaking and patching several recipes together we ended up with our own version which turned out quite nicely if I do say so myself.

We’ll share our version of Sweet Potato Pie below, but before we do here are a few things we learned along the way.  It might help you out and save you from making the same mistakes we made.

  1.  Use fresh yams!  Not canned yams preserved in sweet syrup!  Don’t get me started on this, just ask yourself, would your granny use canned yams?  I doubt it!
  2. Use Large RED Yams.  Not white yams, or purple yams, or Okinawan sweet potato.  Just plain old Red Yams!  And before you ask, yes there are many varieties of yams and sweet potatoes in the markets.  So don’t get fancy, keep it simple, RED Yams.
  3. Bake your yams DO NOT boil them!  This saves you from peeling and chopping raw yams.  BTW have you ever tried peeling and chopping raw yams or sweet potatoes?  No?  Well let me tell you peeling and chopping wood might just be easier!  Most importantly baked yams make a better pie filling, it’s not mushy or watery like boiled yams can be.  And you can bake yams for your Sweet Potato Pie up to a week before you actually make your pie.  Still not convinced or it sounds too tedious?  Remember even though it takes an hour to bake the yams it’s actually a hands off hour so you can do something else like making applesauce, doing laundry, or relaxing in the tub.
  4. Baking yams – Place 3 large yams (you wash them first of course) on a parchment covered baking sheet and pop them in a 375° oven.  Bake for 1 hour then remove from oven.  If you are using it to make Sweet Potato Pie right away peel off the skin and mash the yams to make 2 cups of mashed yams then follow the rest of the recipe to make the pie.  If you baked the yams in advance you can either mash it then store the mashed yams in the fridge in an airtight container or place the whole unpeeled yams in a ziplock and refrigerate until you’re ready to mash them for your Sweet Potato Pie.
  5. Just like Pumpkin and pecan pies, a Sweet Potato Pie is considered a custard pie; hence it must have some form of milk or cream.  There are recipes out there that call for milk, cream, or half-and-half; but since it’s a truly Southern specialty you should use canned evaporated milk.  That’s what they used in the Southern states.  Trust me on this you’ll end up with a creamier and smoother Sweet Potato Pie when you use canned evaporated milk.
  6. When you bake your pie pay close attention to the timer.  Test pie before removing from oven.  First nudge the pie – the center of the pie should be slightly softer than the rest of the pie so that it jiggles a bit when nudged.  Then insert a knife or a toothpick at the center – it should come out clean but moist.
  7. Let baked pie stand for about 30 minutes before cutting it.  This will firm it up so sliced don’t fall apart.  Better yet refrigerate the pie overnight then remove from fridge about 30 minutes before serving so it warms up to room temperature.  I like my custard pies cool I feel it brings out the sweetness.

Having said that here’s our recipe:

Ingredients:

2 Large Red Yams – Baked & Mashed to yield 3 cups (see tips for baking instructions)

1  Cup butter – softened

4  Cups Sugar

1 Can Evaporated Milk 12oz.

1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

6  eggs – beaten

1 1/2 Tsp ground cinnamon

2 Unbaked deep dish pie shells – homemade or frozen

Proceedure:

Mix together first 4 ingredients until well blended.

Stir in Vanilla, Eggs, and Cinnamon.

Pour filling into unbaked pie shells.

Bake in a 350° oven for 1 hour or until filling is set and/or tester comes out clean but moist.

Let stand at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Garnish and serve with whipped cream if desired.

 

Sweet Potato Pie
Print Recipe
Sweet Potato Pie
Print Recipe
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Mix together first 4 ingredients until well blended.
  2. Stir in Vanilla, Eggs, and Cinnamon.
  3. Pour filling into unbaked pie shells.
  4. Bake in a 350° oven for 1 hour or until filling is set and/or tester comes out clean but moist.
  5. Let stand at least 30 minutes before slicing.
  6. Garnish and serve with whipped cream if desired.
Recipe Notes

Baking yams - Place 3 large yams (you wash them first of course) on a parchment covered baking sheet and pop them in a 375° oven.  Bake for 1 hour then remove from oven.  If you are using it to make Sweet Potato Pie right away peel off the skin and mash the yams to make 2 cups of mashed yams then follow the rest of the recipe to make the pie.  If you baked the yams in advance you can either mash it then store the mashed yams in the fridge in an airtight container or place the whole unpeeled yams in a ziplock and refrigerate until you're ready to mash them for your Sweet Potato Pie.

Share this Recipe
 
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe
The Best Homemade Applesauce

The Best Homemade Applesauce

ApplesauceThanksgiving is next week.  I started my annual holiday cooking routine last this week.  From now until the New Year yummy aromas will be coming from my kitchen!  The annual game of cat and mouse will begin; family members sneaking tastes of pies, cookies, and candies while I try to keep them hidden.  Last year my son and husband went thru a couple of pecan pies a couple of days before Thanksgiving, luckily I made 6 pies!

The first thing I make every year is my homemade applesauce which we use instead of cranberry sauce.  It goes great with roast turkey and the Prime Rib roast we make for Christmas.  Sealed in mason jars or even just stored in the fridge and the sauce will last thru the holidays.

Over the years I’ve tried different types of apples to make my sauce.  You never quite realize just how many types of apples there are until you start shopping for them.  I’ve used Fuji, Mackintosh, Delicious, Gala, and Granny Smith apples just to name a few I’ve tried.  I’ve discovered that the best applesauce is made by using different types of apples.  Yes each apple variety has its own unique flavor and texture so mixing them up makes for a  tastier and more robust sauce.

My family will only eat my homemade applesauce, no store bought sauce for them.  Even my grandson, Dion, who absolutely will not touch store bought sauce, even as an infant, loves my sauce.  It’s sweet and laced with lots of cinnamon.  Dion says he likes it because it has a nice texture, not the strained baby food like texture the ones from the store have.  It’s a bit chunky, but not too chunky, even the twins, Harper and Sadi, love it!  By the way the cinnamon can be optional!  My grandson Devon has recently declared that he dislikes cinnamon (this declaration boggles my mind as he still loves cinnamon rolls) so before I add the cinnamon I set aside a small portion just for him.

The applesauce is easy to make, just a bit time consuming.  That’s why I make it well ahead of time.
This allows it to chill, we feel applesauce should be served cold.  Here’s my recipe, it will make 2 pint size jars or 1 quart size jar.

Ingredients:

2 Red Delicious Apples

2 Golden Delicious Apples

2 Gala or Mackintosh Apples

2 Granny Smith Apples

2 cups sugar (add more if you want it sweeter or less if you don’t want it so sweet)

6+ Cups Water

1 tbls. ground cinnamon (you can adjust this to suit your taste)

Directions:

1.  Fill a large pot about half way with water.

2.  Wash and peel apples, then cut into bite size chunks about 1/2″ big

3.  Place apple pieces in pot of water.  Add more water if needed to cover the apples.  The top layer will float a bit.

4.  Add sugar and stir.

5.  Cook on stove over medium heat until water has been absorbed.  Stir occasionally to keep bottom from burning.  As it cooks and softens you can mash the chunks a bit with the spoon used to stir.  The sauce will start turning brownish.  If it starts to bubble reduce heat.  This process takes about 2-3 hours.

6.  When the apples have all liquified and water evaporated remove pot from heat.

7.  Stir in cinnamon.

8.  Seal in mason jars according to canning instructions or allow to cool then transfer to sealed containers and store in refrigerator.  Even If you seal it in jars you should store it in the fridge so it will be cool when served.

You can serve this as a snack, or with roast turkey or beef, and pork chops.  It’s really yummy!

The Best Homemade Applesauce
Print Recipe
Homemade applesauce goes great with roast turkey and the Prime Rib roast we make for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sealed in mason jars or even just stored in the fridge and the sauce will last thru the holidays.
Servings Prep Time
2 Pints 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 - 3 Hours 2 - 3 Hours
Servings Prep Time
2 Pints 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 - 3 Hours 2 - 3 Hours
The Best Homemade Applesauce
Print Recipe
Homemade applesauce goes great with roast turkey and the Prime Rib roast we make for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sealed in mason jars or even just stored in the fridge and the sauce will last thru the holidays.
Servings Prep Time
2 Pints 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 - 3 Hours 2 - 3 Hours
Servings Prep Time
2 Pints 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 - 3 Hours 2 - 3 Hours
Ingredients
Servings: Pints
Instructions
  1. Fill a large pot about half way with water. This is why I put 6+ cups of water in the ingredients. You can adjust it to fill your pot.
  2. Wash and peel apples, then cut into bite size chunks about 1/2" big
  3. Place apple pieces in pot of water. Add more water if needed to cover the apples. The top layer will float a bit.
  4. Add sugar and stir.
  5. Cook on stove over medium heat until water has been absorbed. Stir occasionally to keep bottom from burning. As it cooks and softens you can mash the chunks a bit with the spoon used to stir. The sauce will start turning brownish. If it starts to bubble reduce heat. This process takes about 2-3 hours.
  6. When the apples have all liquified and water evaporated remove pot from heat.
  7. Stir in cinnamon.
  8. Seal in mason jars according to canning instructions or allow to cool then transfer to sealed containers and store in refrigerator. Even If you seal it in jars you should store it in the fridge so it will be cool when served.
Recipe Notes

You can also make this applesauce in a crockpot.  Just dump all the ingredients, except the cinnamon, into the pot.  Cook for about 6 hours, add cinnamon, and place in storage containers.

If you do make it in the crockpot don't leave it much longer than 6 hours, overcooking will turn it into apple butter.  That's good too!

Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe
Naked Cakes For All Occasions

Naked Cakes For All Occasions

Naked CakesI recently discovered Naked Cakes and it has become my new passion!

It seems that my beloved fondant topped cakes have been replaced by Naked Cakes.  It’s this year’s trendy cake for weddings, birthdays, and just about any occasion when a cake is called for.

 What exactly are Naked Cakes?  Just as the name suggests they’re cakes with minimal or no frosting.  But that doesn’t mean they’re plain.  Far from it!  This recent trend has seen many gorgeous cakes pop up at wedding, bridal showers, and other events.

naked cakesNaked Cakes make the most of fresh ingredients such as fresh flowers, succulents, leaves,  and fruits.  Cake designers have come up with unique ways to incorporate fresh ingredients into their multi-tiered cakes.

naked cakesOthers have used food coloring to bake tinted cakes resulting in a tiered rainbow!

Aren’t these naked cakes just too pretty to eat?

Another reason I love naked cakes is because they are too easy to make!  You don’t have to be a pastry chef to master the art of making naked cakes, you just need the right tools!  Believe it or not you can make these beautiful cakes using a box mix.  I did!

I was dying to try my hand at making a naked cake, but I wasn’t too thrilled about baking one from scratch.  So I got out a couple of boxes of Duncan Hines Supreme Banana Cake Mix and baked 3 cakes.  I didn’t want to be too ambitious on my first try so I decided 3 tiers was my limit.  I even used canned frosting!  The only thing I made from scratch was the topping, Honeyed Bananas.  I wanted to decorate with bananas, but fresh bananas turn an unappetizing brown color when exposed to air for more than an hour.  That’s why I had to basically fry them, no big deal, I love friend bananas!

So here’s what you need to make a Honeyed Banana Naked Cake:

3 – 9″ round banana cakes – you can use your own recipe or a boxed mix.  If you’re going to use a cake mix I found that Duncan Hines brand works best when it’s time to cut the tops off and if you want to split the cake horizontally to create thin layers.

1 – 2 cans of canned frosting – I used cream cheese Or 2-3 Cups of homemade frosting

4 large bananas sliced in to rounds – firm not too ripe

4 Tbs. Butter

1/4 Cup Honey

1 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon

Long serrated bread knife

Off set icing knife – if you don’t have one (you should if you bake cakes) a cake server works ok

Ice cream scoop – don’t worry if you don’t have one, but it’s handy to have so you can portion icing evenly

Cake turntable – optional – but it will make cutting the cake easier

Ruler

Plastic Wrap

Directions:

Bake 3 cakes according to your recipe or box mix

Remove from pans and wrap each cake in plastic wrap

Freeze until firm – overnight works best

naked cakesRemove cake from freezer one at a time – work on one layer at a time

Carefully unwrap cake

Place on cake turntable or cutting board[spacer height=”-20px”]

naked cakes

 

Cut off the “domed” top of the cake – place the knife on top of the flattest part of the cake’s edge and cut all the way across  [spacer height=”-20px”]

naked cakesRemove top and set aside.  Don’t throw it out, you can use them to make cake pops or give them to the kids to snack.

Brush off loose crumbs and place on a cake board or plate bottom side down[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

naked cakeDrop a scoop of icing on  the cake and spread over surface just to the edge.[spacer height=”-20px”]

naked cakesCut the top of the next layer and place it on top of the first layer cut side down.

Frost just like the first layer  [spacer height=”-20px”]

naked cakeCut top of last layer and place on top of the second layer cut side down.[spacer height=”-20px”]

naked cakesFrost the top layer.

At this point you cake is done, you can serve it as it is.  But it’s much more fun to decorate it!

For this cake I topped it with Honeyed Bananas

So read on to see how to make Honeyed Bananas, they’re yummy![spacer height=”-20px”]

naked cakesMelt butter in a frying pan, add honey and mix well, stir in cinnamon

Add banana slices.

Fry each side of the bananas about 3 minutes or until golden brown and coated with honey mixture.

naked cakes

Remove from pan and cool.

Arrange cool bananas on top of cake.[spacer height=”-20px”]

naked cakes

Your beautiful cake is done!  Easy peasy!  You can make any kind of cake  you want and decorate it any way you want.  Naked Cakes are so easy and so pretty you’ll want to make one every time you have company, or even if you don’t!

I may love these trendy new cakes, but for children’s birthday parties I’m still going with those fancy fondant covered cakes!  I just ordered one for Devon’s 9th. Birthday party next month!

For more Naked Cake ideas follow me on Pinterest, I love to pin the prettiest ones on my board!

 

 

Naked Cakes
Honeyed Banana Naked Cake
Print Recipe
Naked Cakes
Honeyed Banana Naked Cake
Print Recipe
Ingredients
Cake
Honeyed Bananas
Servings:
Instructions
Cake
  1. Bake 3 cakes according to your recipe or box mix Remove from pans and wrap each cake in plastic wrap Freeze until firm - overnight works best
  2. Remove cake from freezer one at a time - work on one layer at a time Carefully unwrap cake Place on cake turntable or cutting board
  3. Cut off the "domed" top of the cake - place the knife on top of the flattest part of the cake's edge and cut all the way across
  4. Remove top and set aside. Don't throw it out, you can use them to make cake pops or give them to the kids to snack. Brush off loose crumbs and place on a cake board or plate bottom side down
  5. Drop a scoop of icing on the cake and spread over surface just to the edge.
  6. Cut the top of the next layer and place it on top of the first layer cut side down. Frost just like the first layer
  7. Cut top of last layer and place on top of the second layer cut side down. Frost the top layer
Topping
  1. Melt butter in a frying pan, add honey and mix well, stir in cinnamon
  2. Add banana slices.
  3. Fry each side of the bananas about 3 minutes or until golden brown and coated with honey mixture.
  4. Remove from pan and cool.
  5. Arrange cooled bananas on top of cake
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe
Sweet Potato Dog Chews

Sweet Potato Dog Chews

Dog TreatsI was in Petco just before Christmas looking for treats for my Siberian Husky, she loves treats!  I was shocked at how expensive dog treats have gotten.  I found a small bag of “all natural” sweet potato treats priced at $12.99, my dog loves sweet potatoes, but I wasn’t ready to fork over 13 bucks for a few pieces of dehydrated sweet potato when I could buy a whole bag of sweet potato for about $5.  I decided I could make my own dog chews so I got a bag of sweet potato from Walmart and headed home to make some.

 

 

It’s super easy to make.  The bag contained 6 fairly large sweet potatoes so I got a lot of chews for $5, I already had the other ingredients in my pantry.  I made enough chews to give out to our friends who own dogs.

You can freeze these treats, they last about 3-4 months.  My dog, Cannoli, loves them even frozen!

Ingredients:

6 large sweet potatoes

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Dog treats

Directions:

1.  Scrub and dry sweet potatoes.

2.  Slice into 1/2 thick slices.  This is the hardest part!  I find cutting off a slice from one side then placing the cut side down makes slicing the potatoes easier.

3.  Place slices on parchment covered baking sheet.

4.  Mix cinnamon in olive oil.

5.  Brush both sides of potato slices with oil.

6.  Bake in 275 degree oven for 2-3 hours.

7.  Remove from oven and cool.

8.  Store in air tight containers in the fridge.  For longer storage freeze in freezer safe bags for up to 4 months.

Sweet Potato Dog Chews
Print Recipe
Easy and inexpensive dog treats!
Servings Prep Time
75 Pieces 20 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2-3 Hours 2-3 Hours
Servings Prep Time
75 Pieces 20 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2-3 Hours 2-3 Hours
Sweet Potato Dog Chews
Print Recipe
Easy and inexpensive dog treats!
Servings Prep Time
75 Pieces 20 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2-3 Hours 2-3 Hours
Servings Prep Time
75 Pieces 20 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2-3 Hours 2-3 Hours
Ingredients
Servings: Pieces
Instructions
  1. Scrub and dry sweet potatoes.
  2. Slice into 1/2 thick slices.
  3. Place slices on parchment covered baking sheet.
  4. Mix cinnamon in olive oil.
  5. Brush both sides of potato slices with oil.
  6. Remove from oven and cool.
  7. Store in air tight containers in the fridge. For longer storage freeze in freezer safe bags for up to 4 months.
Recipe Notes

Raw sweet potatoes are pretty hard and can be difficult to slice.  I find cutting off a slice from one side then placing the cut side down makes slicing the potatoes easier.

Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe