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Delicious Mushrooms

I had these mushrooms years ago as an appetizer and I loved them. I have used this recipe for years but have changed it for our family.

Ingredients

1 package of mushrooms, washed and prepared for cooking

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1 onion chopped

2 cloves garlic chopped

1 tsp. basil

2 Tbs. fresh chopped parsley

2 cups water with 2 cubes chicken bouillon

Olive oil

Directions

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until soft, add water, bouillon, basil, and salt if needed.

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Let this boil and then turn it down, cover and simmer for a few minutes. Add the mushrooms and parsley, let them simmer until done.

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The outside world

Average Saudi neighborhood

As the long, hot summer drug on, the kids continued playing, making houses out of the couch pads. This is a tradition they would pass on to each younger sibling and continue until we left Saudi. The brown rough blanket we brought with us to the villa became a curtain, walls, maybe even a river. The cardboard box that Grama lovingly packed and sent, still sat in the corner. I guess it was a reminder that we were not alone and someone was thinking of us. My thoughts were focused on the year to come, in particular, school. I felt a sick pit in my stomach when my mind wandered to the previous year. I felt that it must have been the worst school in all of Riyadh, a school with inexperienced  teachers and administration. Surely any other school in Riyadh would be much different, this is what I told myself.

The weather continued to be hot, 115 degrees, but it felt much hotter. The heat increased with each passing day and was unrelenting.  Unlike the heat I had experienced as a child when hot summer days faded into cool evenings and we all sat on the lawn swing in the back yard.  The heat was bearable as we ran through the sprinkler and swam at the neighborhood pool. But this was a different kind of heat and sitting in the apartment day after day made it feel stagnant and dry.  It was irritating not having regular electricity and the comfort of air conditioning, boredom started to wear on me. The English channel turned on at 4 p.m. but had a limited selection of shows, many were older programs and all were heavily censored, often times only a few minutes remained for viewing. My attitude started slipping and I felt a twinge of despair until I started spending many hours looking out of the large windows. I noticed workers who walked with their buckets and rags, hailing people as they passed to offer them a quick car wash,  this put things into perspective. They usually had a two year contract to work in Saudi, they left behind family, possibly a wife and children. They were the backbone of Saudi society, maids and drivers, and other “workers” who held the fabric of life together. In later years they became true friends who helped me on many occasions, shuttling me around to look at housing and carrying my newborn babies through the grocery insisting that I should be at home in bed. My thoughts drifted back to school although I tried to push this away until it actually arrived and there was no more room for denial.

I was sure that things would continually improve for our family and he would indeed find his “dream” job, In the mean time I offered my support and encouragement. He brought home requests from new friends for books that needed editing, desserts for office functions as well as reports for odd jobs he had managed to land. I spent hours working on these tasks although I had no expertise in these fields as well as no desk or table, no proper stove or utensils. I did this in the hopes that the man I once knew who had entranced me with his kindly manner, and promises of abiding love, would come back if only for a fleeting moment.This would be enough to carry me through the passing days and nights.  I nursed the baby on my lap, held my little Foof and hugged See See as I wrote pages of reports, edited books and whipped up batches of hundreds of pastries. I felt I could not do much for him but offer my support. I comforted myself with thoughts of how it all began and where it would inevitably once begin again.

I passed my days taking care of the children and making friends with a few new ladies who had moved into the building. Electricity was to come any day and this time it was really going to happen. It had been 4 months without real electricity which had been a test but many people in this world live with much less. We also received a phone which opened up a whole new world. I met many American, British and Canadian ladies married to Arab men. They were living in Riyadh and coping with the school system and life in a foreign country. Potlucks and picnics were held at a school parking lot where we all sat on blankets, laughing as we watched the children run and play. The phone meant I had regular contact with my parents and sister as well as these new friends. They called to invite me to meetings, luncheons and coffee mornings but it was difficult to attend any of these events when there was no way to drive. Taxis were off limits until years later when my daughter, a grown up See See, and I  snuck  to get essentials while he worked away all week at a camp. These ladies were a life line for me and literally meant hope in the darkness. I invited them for a coffee at the apartment where we spent hours talking and listening to tips about living in the Kingdom.  As I cleaned up and straightened the apartment he arrived home. He asked about my day and offered what appeared to be enthusiasm for this day off from tedious chores. He told me that I should most definitely get out of the apartment more often and relax. He went to his room and changed into his pajamas as is customary in the Arab world. When he returned he sat with me just like old times, he joked and spoke warmly, asking me about the ladies and their visit.  I eagerly told him about the stories, ideas and tips that were shared. Again another glimpse into the past and the man I had once known.

The next Thursday (beginning of the weekend)  night rolled around, we packed the cookies we had made, the old brown blanket, diaper bag, and juice. The kids were excited to see the children from the week before. In Arabic school they had not been accepted but at this parking lot there were children much like them. American mothers and Arab fathers, it was a place to belong. This week my spirits were lifted in anticipation of seeing these ladies who were much like me and who faced the same struggles. We sat waiting for several hours bags by the door until it seemed evident he was not coming home and we were not going. We all fell asleep on our cozy pad beds watching tiny censored snippets of old sitcom reruns. When he arrived there were no words, or any apologies but this was the way our life would play out for years to come.

The Creative Blogger Award

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I would like to thank JoAnn over at Joann’s Food For Thought for nominating me for this award! I always enjoy her recipes and her lovely blog! Thanks JoAnn!! If you want to look for delicious recipes her blog is definitely a great place to go!

I never thought I would have a blog! Three years ago my oldest son tried to convince me to start a blog! It sounded like a crazy idea! This summer my daughter insisted and it all started! Like everything else in our family, the blog has become a family thing. People take pictures, help with cooking, clean up after mom!! It has been great meeting all of the amazing people in this community and it has inspired me to open up and tell my story! Thank you all!

I also want to apologize to anyone who nominated me for an award in the past! I was a bit overwhelmed learning about blogging and so it was just too difficult for me! I do appreciate it! From now on I will wait until weekends and try to address any awards!! Again thank you for nominating me!

The rules for this award are:

  1. Nominate a few bloggers and let them know
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you
  3. Post five facts about yourself.

Five facts about me:

  1. I love coffee
  2. I am waiting for grandkids but in the mean time I have Kenny-Oldest son’s dog and Clementine- Second oldest son’s dog
  3.  My favorite herb is Cilantro
  4. I collected egg timers and at age 12 I had 125 different egg timers
  5. I love peanut butter and chocolate!

My nominees:

Lin’s Recipes

The Culinary Jumble

Love Served Daily

I would like to give a big thanks again to JoAnn, her blog is amazing and her recipes are also very tasty!

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Mocha cookie Mousse

This is a special dessert that I have made for many years.  It became a favorite of my British neighbor while we were residing on a Western compound in Riyadh. She asked me to make it for her weekly and said that it was her husband’s all time favorite dessert. It has a light mocha flavor and a chocolate cookie crust.

Ingredients

2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup strong coffee or espresso

2 egg yolks

1 small jar marshmallow fluff

1 small container whipping cream

1/2 cup white sugar

Crust

15-20 chocolate cookies made into big crumbs

Directions

Pour crumbs into small spring form pan, press down and even out.

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Filling

In sauce pan mix chocolate chips, water and coffee. On low heat whisk until smooth and chips are melted. Remove pan from heat and let cool slightly while doing the next step. Separate 2 eggs and use only yolks, discard egg whites. I personally do not use raw egg whites in my desserts. Whisk egg yolks well. Now you are going to use 2 to 3 Tablespoons of the warm chocolate mixture and whisk it into the egg yolks.

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When well combined put this egg and chocolate mixture back into the saucepan.  Whisk well. Put pan back on medium heat and whisk constantly until low boil, cook chocolate at low boil for 2-3 minutes. Watch carefully so it does not burn.  After cooked remove from heat, cool for a few minutes.

Open jar of marshmallow fluff and put into a large bowl. Add chocolate mocha mix to marshmallow fluff and fold lightly. Do not mix, FOLD. Refrigerate chocolate mixture until cool. Meanwhile put whipping cream in mixer and add sugar. Mix well until stiff. When chocolate mix is cool fold 3 cups of  whipped cream in. FOLD do not mix! Pour into crust. Freeze for several hours.

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Use left over cream to decorate your cake. I sprinkle cookie crumbs over the whipped cream. You can decorate in the way you like. Remove ring from pan and you have a beautiful dessert. I usually slide this onto a fancy platter for serving. You can use a pancake turner to loosen crust and slide the mousse onto platter. Make sure it is frozen before trying this.

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Contrast in Riyadh

A few days ago I showed pictures of the modern malls and shops in Riyadh. There is a huge contrast between the old and new! This is a look at interesting areas around Riyadh just to show you a contrast. Hope you enjoy!

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S5000494 Old Riyadh

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Shopping in old area with tons of amazing things to see and buy!

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Just outside of town

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Near Camel souk(market)

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Camel souk (market)

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Tortellini salad for busy days!

This is a very simple salad that my kids love. We toss it together on busy days! You can add the type of vegetables that you like.

Ingredients

One package cheese tortellini- refrigerated kind

1 can black olives, drained and sliced

1 Green Bell pepper,chopped

1 Red Bell pepper,chopped

Dressing

You can use your favorite bottle of Italian salad dressing or I use the following:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup vinegar

2 Tbs. sugar

1/4 tsp. basil

3 Tbs. fresh parsley chopped

1 clove garlic minced

1/2 tsp. salt

Directions

I like the fresh type of tortellini found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain pasta. Do not over cook!

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Add vegetables to cooked, drained pasta.

Mix dressing well.

Pour dressing over salad and mix. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and mix. Refrigerate.

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Chicken Divan

This is a very hearty, easy and delicious meal! My mother made it for us years back and we loved it. I have my own version that has worked well for us and here it is!

Ingredients

5 chicken breasts, boiled until cooked, drain, cool and shred chicken

1 large crown of broccoli

1-23 ounce can cream of chicken soup

1 cup low fat Mayonnaise

2 1/2  cups water

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 tsp. curry powder

juice of one lemon

Topping

4 pieces of sliced bread

1/2 stick butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

Place bread on a baking sheet and put in oven until toasted

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When cooled, break into pieces and add to melted butter, coat well.

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Prepare the chicken and set aside

Cut broccoli into long stalks and boil until crisp tender

On the bottom of baking dish place broccoli single layer

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Place chicken on top of broccoli

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In a large bowl mix Soup, Mayonnaise, water, lemon juice and curry powder until smooth.

Pour soup mixture over chicken and make sure it is well covered.

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Sprinkle top with cheese and then bread crumbs.

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Cover well and place in oven for 45 minutes or until bubbly and done!

I serve this with mashed potatoes or white rice

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