Thursday, 31 July 2014

101 POSTS! WOO HOO! (Top Hit Posts)

That's right, all you awesome viewers, 101 posts written, 101 moments recorded in writing! Here, I'm going to give you a round-up of the best recipes, most accurate guitar tabs, and funniest Honor Updates!

First up, the Funniest Honor Update Awards!

3. The Eighth Honor Update
        Honor: Sorry, the Fairy has memory loss issues...
        Tutor: Oh, man. (rubs eyes) Oh crap. Nick poked me in the eye!

2. The Sixth Honor Update
        Nick: AAH! HELP! MAMA!
        Jill: You are as ugly as the Tutor's feet, Beauty!
       
The winner, #1, is...
  Another HONOR UPDATE!
        Honor: Oh God, Fairy, you fluttering flutterfly of a flashy fishy's flippin flipper!
        Andres: What? Baby camels? Awesome!
        Guard: She looked like Beauty. She was all dirty and ugly!

Now, the Most Accurate Guitar Tab is...
  Safe & Sound - Taylor Swift Chords!
        This tab's main chords/base chords are the Em and the G-major.
        The song is from the Hunger Games' exclusive album Songs from District 12 and Beyond.

Finally, the moment you've all been waiting for...
Most Popular Recipes!
(I'm starting from seven for 'magical' purposes.)

#7: New York Crumb Cake












#6: Double Chocolate Cookies












#5: Melt-In-Your-Mouth Chocolate Cupcakes with Truffle Frosting














#4: Funfetti Cake Batter Frosting

pictur via thedomesticrebel.com














#3: The Hunger Games District 11 Crescent Rolls

















#2: Mocha Cupcakes with Espresso Frosting

pictire via browneyedbaker.com















And the winner is...

#1: THE BEST Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe EVER!

picture via sallysbakingaddiction.com
















AND the best moment:
   Sofie! Our new kitten goes off with a bomb! (Almost literally!)


Thanks to all you amazing viewers from all around the globe who have given me 3,500 views from the U.S., Pakistan, Germany, Ukraine, Canada, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Serbia, Russia, Australia, the U.K., Indonesia, the Netherlands, Argentina, Taiwan, Italy, Poland, France, Ireland, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, and so many more!

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo,
        Zoya <3

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Flippin' Awesome Double Chocolate Frosting

Before we start, I would like to make an anouncemont; I have finished composing my own song! It's based solely on guitar and revolves around the G-major chord.

Last time, I gave all you amazing readers a recipe for the best chocolate cake I've ever had. Today, I'm makin' a match for it with this amazing deep, dark chocolate frosting you'll ever make. Mm-hm. Ever. And any baker worth her salt (no pun intended) should be able to throw together a dessert using this recipe. I used this to frost and fill (but ultimately covered with fondant) my sister's birthday cake, who is now *sniff* gone *sniff* back to *sniff* Boston *sniffedysniffsniffsniff*!

Enough said.



Ingredients

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup melted chocolate chips
1/4 cup milk
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup good-quality cocoa, such as Cadbury or Hershey's

Directions

In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat together the butter, melted chocolate, vanilla, and cocoa on high speed for 3 minutes. Slowly beat in the milk and icing sugar. 

Tip: For real chocolate decadence, sprinkle 1/2 cup chocolate chips over frosting if using as filling before adding second layer.


Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Best Chocolate Birthday Cake. EVER.

(Well, it doesn't have to be a birthday cake...)

Last week, we started planning my sister Sanya's birthday. Colored water fights, sparklers, fireworks, firecrackers, and what not. And, of course, cake.

She wanted an extravagant, too-good-to-eat masterpiece. Which wheeled me out of the way. Maybe, just maybe, I jinxed it, but next week, at the dinner table, I was asked to make her cake.

I saw a picture of a cake online; it used a Wilton fondant mold which had indents shaped like flowers, birds, leaves, branches, and vine borders. Luckily, I had that mold on hand and managed to make half the details two days before the party.

On the last day, I made the second tier, stacked them, shaped the last few decorations, and assembled them. In the end, Sanya's friends didn't show up, but we still got to share the cake with our cousins :).


INGREDIENTS
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup sour cream or yogurt
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp each baking powder, baking soda, and salt
1 cup softened butter
1 cup each white sugar and brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
In a small bowl, mix the water and the baking powder. Let cool, then add the sour cream or yogurt.

In a separate bowl using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a few seconds after each addition. Stir in the vanilla and sour cream mixture. Fold in the remaining ingredients.

Pour into two greased round cake pans and bake at 350°F until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.




Friday, 18 July 2014

Safe & Sound - Taylor Swift - Guitar Chords

I've heard this song so many times it's not funny. One day I haven't heard of it, the next I'm playing guitar to it. During my trip to Islamabad this year, and I think it was a prank my sisters played on me, it was playing the entire time I was asleep. Coincidence? I think not.

Anyway, I'm planning on doing this song for the school talent show next year; it's a smidgen more complex with its bridge that plays through the verses and first chorus. And then there's the free strumming. I'm learning the bridge, and it's easy. I'll post a video of it when I've learned it properly.

Also, don't be scared away by that pesky Bm! Just use a barre on it; here's a diagram of the chord:



Safe & Sound - Taylor Swift

Intro: Em, Bm, G, D x2

(Verse 1)

Em                                    Bm
I remember tears streaming down your face
            G                            D
When I said I'd never let you go,
          Em                     Bm                      G               D
When all those shadows almost killed your light;
Em             Bm
I remember you said
         G                       D
Don't leave me here a - lone,
      Em                      Bm
But all that's dead and gone and past
G     D*(once)
Tonight,

(Chorus)
G                    D
Just close your eyes
       A               G
The sun is going down
                D
You'll be alright
      A                      G
No one can hurt you now
                      D
Come morning light
A                    Bm   A   G
You and I'll be safe and sound


Em, Bm, G, D   x2


(Verse 2)
Em                         Bm          
Don't you dare look out your window
G                                D
Darling everything's on fire
      Em                    Bm                     G           D
The war outside our door keeps raging on
Em      Bm       G    D
Hold on to this lullaby
Em                  Bm      G*     
Even when the music's gone.
G*
Gone.

(If you use the bridge, stop using it for this verse and the outro and switch to strumming.)

(Chorus)
G                    D
Just close your eyes
       A                G
The sun is going down
                D
You'll be alright
      A                      G
No one can hurt you now
                      D
Come morning light
A                     Bm   A   G
You and I'll be safe and sound



G      D    Bm    A
Ooh  Ooh  Aaah  Aaah...  x2


(Very soft bridge this verse)
G                    D   A*
Just close your eyes
G             D    A*
You'll be al - right
G                     D
Come morning light
A                    Bm   A   G
You and I'll be safe and sound


(Strumming, outro)
Em      Bm    G      D
Ooooo Oooo Oooo Oooo...  x2

Em*  Bm*  G*     D*
Oooo Oooo Oooo Ohoh.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Homemade White Bread

White bread, a staple of American meals, is easier to make than you may have expected. Most of you might be scrolling down after you see the word 'yeast' - whoa, whoa, whoa, this is actually very easy to make and uses only simple ingredients.

If you'd like a simple white bread, don't use the seeds or oats. If you'd like a healthier version, use them and you can also substitute half the flour for whole-wheat flour. You can experiment with different seeds and flours, if you like.

The yeast process-
Some people have loads of trouble with their yeast 'blooming'. For this, there are three simple keys:

Water temperature. If your water is too hot, the yeast cells that need to feed on nutrients in the water die, and your bread will not rise. If it is too cold, the cells won't activate, so it still won't rise. The proper temperature can be felt by hand - as warm as possible, not hot, but just so as that you can dip your finger in it without screaming.

Nutrients. In order to expand, your yeast cells need food to properly activate. Usually, sugar and salt do it perfectly, but honey is used in whole wheat bread.

Time. This is the most important key. I have some images here of what your yeast should look like…






The starting point...                 .      






                              2 minutes...




5 minutes...                          .





     And, finally, 10 minutes. Overflowing.






See, that's easy enough.


Ingredients
1 cup warm water (see 'Temperature', above)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp yeast (use 1 tbsp if you want fluffier bread)
3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3 tbsp olive oil
Optional additions,
3 tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp nigella seeds
2 tsp sesame seeds
1/4 cup rolled oats

Directions
In a large mug/cup or small bowl, combine the first four ingredients. Let sit for 10 minutes (see 'Time', above).
In a large bowl, combine the oil, flour, seeds, and oats (if using). add the fermented yeast mixture and combine to form a shaggy, sticky dough. Knead for 10 minutes on a floured surface until smooth. Place in a large bowl and cover with foil, plastic wrap, wax paper, or even tea towels, to rise in a warm place for about an hour until doubled in size.

After an hour, dump out onto a floured surface. Punch down the dough. Place into a greased loaf tin and let rise for another half hour.

Before baking, spray the bread with water. Place in an oven at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) with a pan of boiling water.
Spray with water 5 minutes into baking.

When you tap it and it sounds hollow, remove from the oven and spray with more water. Remove from the pan. Let cool before slicing.

xoxoxoxoxoxox,
Zoya

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Homemade Almond-fudge Clif Bars

Ramadan has begun this year, and our family started fasting today. Well, there's still another half hour till iftar, so IIIIITS POSTING TIIIIIIIME!
As some of you may know, my sisters are here from Boston to visit for three months, so they're fasting with us. One of them had a total meltdown when she figured out that Ramadan was near and she had finished her two crates of Clif bars. Ouch.
While I was whipping a up a batch of granola bars for myself, I thought, hey, why not transform these into Clif bars for her?

Perfect.

I was microwaving the honey and was about to add peanut butter, but subbed with some cocoa and chocolate. I also increased the amount of chopped almonds. And, voilĂ , I had myself Clif bars after 30 minutes in the freezer!
If you'd like, you can use Nutella instead of chocolate.

Ah. Fifteen minutes left till Iftari.


Ingredients
1 cup packed pitted Medjool dates
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup melted chocolate or Nutella
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
Optional additions, such as chocolate chips or more nuts

Directions
Pulse the dates in a food processor until they become dough-like and sticky. Place the date paste, oats, and nuts in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine the cocoa, chocolate, and honey and add into the oat mixture.
Press into a foil-lined square pan and freeze for 30 minutes until harder. Cut into rectangles. These can be stord in the fridge for 3 weeks or in the freezer for months.

oxoxoxoxoxo,
Zoya

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

'How To Train Your Dragon 2' + 'Maleficent' Review

Dreamworks' How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Disney's Maleficent are quite the rage movies this year, HTTYD 2 being a sequel of the first hit movie, and Maleficent one of the many, many twists on Sleeping Beauty. Today, I'm going to give you guys reviews from sites such as Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb, and Metacritic.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 

This movie was extremely 'waited-for' by me because I was a huge, huge fan of the first movie. Back in January, when it was confirmed that the second movie was going to be released, I (along with a few other fanatics) went completely ballistic. Everyone waited and waited, and finally, on the 13th of June, it was released.
I later checked the ratings online and while Metacritic (which I have only now heard of) rates it with a 77%, IMDb gave it a 8.6/10 and Rotten Tomatoes gives a 92%.

Hiccup Horrendus Haddock III with his faithful dragon, Toothless.

Today, with no jam-packed theater, me and my sisters finally went to watch it (tip: avoid sitting in the first 5 rows). The movie moved me and quite a few others in the cinema to tears many, many times. Deaths are made very dramatic and sad (I cried more than I did during and sad scene, including The Hunger Games' Rue scene) , while during a cheerful moment, you have the urge to punch your fist into the air and scream "YEAH!".
Overall, I think this was an amazing movie, and if you decide to watch it, beware the tears! :')

Maleficent

I hadn't heard of this movie until a week before it was released because I was totally out of contact from the world because of my finals (ha!), I saw an ad for it on a billboard with the caption "SLEEPING BEAUTY WAKES UP". How could I resist? We booked our tickets in advance; time flew by.
Of course, I checked the ratings - not good at all for Rotten Tomatoes or Metacrtic with a 50% and 56% respectively, but reasonably OK for IMDb with a 7.4/10.

Angelina Jolie nails the part of Maleficent. Don't you love that background?
(Why is there a camera set in the middle of the woods? Aurora thought.)
Though the reviews were rotten, the movie was amazing for our family. The twist was amazing, and the best element was (SPOILER ALERT!) betrayal. The only thing is, Prince Philip's scenes made me super uncomfortable... (no offense, Philip!)
A very good movie, the role of Maleficent was one-hundred-percent-perfect for Angelina Jolie. No question, she pulled it off perfectly, the looks, the taunting, the evilness.

*                    *                  *

Well, to me, and, evidently, many other people, How To Train Your Dragon 2 was among the best movies ever, I would suggest it for ages 11 - 18; my sisters did not enjoy it that much. Oh, well!

Maleficent is amazing, too, though, but given the ratings, not many enjoyed it. This movie is good for most ages, if a bit loud.

Being a fangirl, well, I preferred How To Train Your Dragon 2 by juuuuuust a few dekameters. 
What can I say? I'm hooked.

I hope this encourages you to watch these movies of you haven't yet! 
I'm off to watch Dragons: Defenders of Berk. (You should watch that, too, of you enjoyed the movie.)

xoxoxoxoxox,
Zoya

Thursday, 12 June 2014

The Hunger Games District 11 Crescent Rolls

Hey guys!

With the celebration of NO MORE SIXTH GRADE (woo-hoo!) comes the planning of my twelfth birthday in November. I know, I know, it's in November, so why am I planning now? Because I want this to be the best birthday I've ever had. It's going to be Hunger Games themed with a CAKE ON FIRE with NIGHTLOCK and mockingjay pins and Catching Fire cupcakes and, best of all, (wait for it...) District breads!

Though Katniss doesn't name the breads from Districts One, Two, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, and Ten, the four districts that she does name are the small cloverleaf-like rolls from Three, the fish-shapes green-tinted ones from Four and the ones she described as "the ugly drop biscuits that are our standard fare at home", Twelve, and finally, the one most described with throughout appearances, the dark crescent rolls dotted with black seeds. This is the bread that most appealed to me (maybe because of Rue) of the four breads.

At first, I was sure that the "dark ration grain", tesserae grain, would be some kind of rye grain/flour. Please tell me why I would have rye grain on hand? I know! I use it on cupcakes all the time! Just as much as Thresh is a midget! Of course!! So with no rye flour or grain, I had no choice but to use whole wheat flour. And using whole wheat flour instead of white flour in a regular bread is a bad idea, a lesson I learned the hard way. I found a recipe for whole wheat bread in The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion cookbook (thanks to my brother-in-law; big shout out! Thanks for the book!) which was AMAZING.

The original recipe called for 1/4 cup each of chopped walnuts and sunflower seeds, which I easily replaced with other, darker seeds. All the recipes online call for poppy seeds for the "black seeds", but I decided to change the game, half because a recipe said they tasted quite plain, half because the poppy seeds in Pakistan are white. I used a mixture of Nigella seeds, white poppy seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, and rolled oats. These nuts add flavor and texture rather than simply poppy seeds, so I suggest this blend of seeds.

Good luck,
And may the odds be ever in your favor.



The Hunger Games District 11 Crescent Rolls
by Zoya Mir

Ingredients
• 1 1/2 cups warm water (112°F)
• 1 1/2 tsp salt
• 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp honey, molasses, or maple syrup
• 1 tbsp yeast
• 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
• 2 tbsp poppy seeds
• 1 tsp nigella seeds
• 1 1/2 tbsp whole flax seeds
• 3 tbsp sesame seeds
• 3 - 4 cups whole wheat flour
• 3 tbsp olive oil

Directions
In a small bowl or ramekin or large mug, stir together the first four ingredients. Set aside for ten minutes.
Meanwhile, toast the seeds and the oats in a pan for 2-4 minutes until golden brown and your entire kitchen smells like heaven. If you hear cracking and popping, definitely remove it immediately.

In a large bowl, stir together the toasted seeds and the flour with the oil. Add the now puffed up yeast mixture and stir. Form into a dough and knead for ten minutes until smooth and elasticy. Place in an oiled bowl and cover. Leave it for an hour until doubled in size.

Divide the dough into halves and roll out into rounds. Cut into halves, then quarters, and finally eights, into triangles. Take the wide end of each one and roll it towards the tip. Keep rolling. Place it seam side - down on a lightly greased cookie sheet and slightly bend the edges into the center, forming a crescent. Cover and leave to rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Place the rolls in the oven for 10 -15 minutes until lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

Zoya >_<