Saturday, 15 November 2014

UPDATE & APOLOGY!

Hey all! Again, I'm SO SO SO SORRY about that absence for another month... but here's what happened!


  • This blog turned 1! On October 24th, this blog celebrated its first birthday! Hopefully there will be many more to come!

  • My birthday! Well, that was yesterday... but hey! We're having a party at school on Monday to celebrate with my BFFs, though we took some pictures yesterday and had loads of fun :). Plus, me and a guy in my class, Hammad, along with Anusha, are setting up some pranks for Shehryar Sohail involving a water balloon on a chair and a tabasco and toothpaste cupcake... MWA HA HA HA!

  • Have any of you played Super Smash Flash 2? It is THE BEST game on the planet! You can play as your favorite video game characters (ex. Pikachu, Zelda, Naruto, Samus, Captain Falcon, etc.) and brawl! Here's the link.

  • My final exams start on the 20th :(. But the topics are easy, so I'm pretty confident.


  • We had a new outdoor kitten named September, but he got sick and ran away... we found him dead in our storage room... STILL HAVEN'T GOTTEN OVER THAT. He was the most precious thing ever! :'(




Bye! Hope you have a great day, and I'll post a recipe soon enough ;) (or maybe guitar tab...)

Saturday, 27 September 2014

A Year Without Rain Chords by Selena Gomez

Hey all! So sorry about my absence for the past three weeks, I have waaaaay too much stuff to do, and I was only able to sneak onto the computer twice including this, the first time being a lucky password-guess but THE STUPID INTERNET ROUTER DECIDED TO MALFUNCTION. Lucky, ain't I? Well, this time, being out sick has its advantages ;) (and disadvantages x_x).

Anyway, this song is among my favorites, and Selena Gomez's most famous album was given the title A Year Without Rain and released in September 2010 by Hollywood Records. The album contains 10 songs, playing a total of about 36 minutes. The album went gold in Brazil, Canada, and the United States, and platinum in Poland. The song itself is one of the two singles, the other being Round & Round.

Moving on.

A Year Without Rain - Selena Gomez & The Scene

Tuning: Standard, capo on 3rd fret
Beat: about 130 BPM


(Intro):
 A           Em           Bm    D
 Ooh ooh ooh ooh, ooh ooh ooh

(Verse 1):
A                       Em                                   Bm
 Can you feel me,  when I think about you
                    D
 With every breath I take
 A                  Em                         Bm
 Every minute,   no matter what I do
            D
 My world is an empty place


A                                              Em              Bm                   D
 Like I've been wandering the desert, for a thousand days
A                             Em                            Bm            D
 Don't know if it's a mirage, but I always see your face,  baby


(Chorus):
A                                     Em
 I'm missing you so much,  can't help it I'm in love
Bm                       D
 A day without is like a year without rain
A                                 Em
 I need you by my side,  don't know how I'll survive
Bm                              D
 A day without you is like a year without
A         Em    Bm         D 
 Ra-a-a-a-a-a-ain, oh oh oh
                A             Em             Bm
 Woa-oh-oh  oh-oh-oh  oh-wo-oh


(Verse 2):
A                              Em                                      Bm
 The stars are burning,  I hear your voice in my mind
 D
 Can't you hear me calling
A                                              Em                        Bm
 My heart is yearning, like the ocean that's running dry
                        D
 Catch me I'm falling

A                                  Em                    Bm                D
 It's like the ground is crumbling underneath my feet (won't you save me)
A                                    Em                         Bm               D
 There's gonna be a monsoon when you get back to me, oh baby


(Chorus):
A                                     Em
 I'm missing you so much,  can't help it I'm in love
Bm                       D
 A day without is like a year without rain
A                                 Em
 I need you by my side,  don't know how I'll survive
Bm                              D
 A day without you is like a year without
A         Em    Bm         D 
 Ra-a-a-a-a-a-ain, oh oh oh
                A             Em             Bm
 Woa-oh-oh  oh-oh-oh  oh-wo-oh


(Bridge):
      G                                A
 So let this drought come to an end
         D/F#                  Bm
 And make this desert flower again
           G
I'm so glad you found me
A
Stick around me
D/F#                      Bm
Baby, baby, baby, ooh
         G                                A
It's a world of wonder with you in my life
     D/F#                     Bm
So hurry, baby, don't waste no more time
            G                         A
  And I need you here, I can't explain
           D/F#              Bm
 But a day without you, is like a year without
A          Em     Bm         D 
 Ra-a-a-a-a-a-ain, oh oh oh


(Chorus):
A                                     Em
 I'm missing you so much,  can't help it I'm in love
Bm                       D
 A day without is like a year without rain
A                                 Em
 I need you by my side,  don't know how I'll survive
Bm                              D
 A day without you is like a year without
A         Em    Bm         D 
 Ra-a-a-a-a-a-ain, oh oh oh
                A             Em             Bm
 Woa-oh-oh  oh-oh-oh  oh-wo-oh


(Outro):
 A            Em           Bm
 Ooh ooh ooh ooh, ooh ooh ooh


*          *          *          *          *          *          * 

xoxoxoxoxoxo,
Zoya <3

Monday, 8 September 2014

Teardrops On My Guitar - Taylor Swift - Guitar Chords

Hey all!

Flashback to six years ago; Me and my family were all curled up on the sofa, searching for a movie that all of us could watch (for god's sake, I was five!) when my father suddenly stopped at MTV. There were some kind of awards going on - and there she was, Taylor Swift, performing solo in this pretty white dress, her hair in delicate curls. The volume was then turned up, and I could hear her clearly, though I only remember two lines, "He's the reason for the teardrops on my guitar/ The only thing that's got me wishing on a wishing star". So simple, though so dramatic.

Back to 2014 (!). Two days ago, while in total guitar lockdown mode, I remembered the song (!) and within two hours, I learned the lyrics, chord positions, and tempo (!!!!!). Today I played it for our music class and it went really well! (+Anusha Riaz!!!!!)
Anyway, here are the chords! Happy strumming!

Teardrops On My Guitar
                               - Taylor Swift

Tuning: Standard, Capo 3rd Fret
Tone: G
Tempo (Metronome): 99 - 100 BPM

Intro: G  Em  C  D 

(Verse 1)
G       Em        C       D
Drew looks at me, I fake a smile so he won’t see
G        Em                C            D
That I want and I’m needing, everything that we should be
Em                               C
I'll bet she’s beautiful, that girl he talks about
G                                            D
And she’s got everything that I have to live without


G       Em       C       D
Drew talks to me, I laugh cause it’s so damn funny
G        Em            C    D
That I can’t even see, anyone when he’s with me
Em                                C
He says he’s so in love,    he’s finally got it right
G                                       D
I wonder if he knows he’s all I think about at night


(Chorus)
G                                   D
He’s the reason for the teardrops on my guitar
Em                                          C
The only thing that keeps me wishing on a wishing star
G                              D                                              Em             C
He’s the song in the car I keep singing, don’t know why I do


(Verse 2)
G       Em         C     D
Drew walks by me, can he tell that I can’t breathe?
G                   Em                C
And there he goes so perfectly
                    D
The kind of flawless I wish I could be
Em                                       C
She’d better hold him tight,   give him all her love
G                                   D
Look in those beautiful eyes and know she’s lucky cause


(Chorus)
G                                   D
He’s the reason for the teardrops on my guitar
Em                                           C
The only thing that keeps me wishing on a wishing star
G                              D                                               Em          C
He’s the song in the car I keep singing, don’t know why I do


G  Em  C  D   x2


(Bridge)
Em                                C
So I drive home alone, as I turn out the light
G                                         D
I put his picture down, and maybe get some sleep tonight


(Chorus)
G                                             D
Cause he’s the reason for the teardrops on my guitar
Em                                  C
The only one who’s got enough of me to break my heart
G                              D                                               Em           C
He’s the song in the car I keep singing, don’t know why I do
               G                                       D      
He’s the time, taken up, but there’s never enough
               Em                             C
And he’s all that I need to fall into


G        Em       C      D                                     G
Drew looks at me, I fake a smile so he won’t see



xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo,
Zoya

A Greeting From...

Hey all!

You might not know who I have as a guest today...

It's...

The one and only...

HONOR HERSELF!! I'll hand it over to her.

I guess I don't need to greet now cos Zoya already has for me, but I'M SO EXCITED TO BE BACK!  
I came to visit her for a week (been here since yesterday) and she has been pushing me to post. I really don't have much to say, just wanted to say hi, so, well, hi! Truthfully, not much is new (other than the fact that I hate Andres :P) but thare's a rumor that Cindy left! :'( Imma miss her a bit too much!
Here's something funny.
(During a celeb quiz)
Anusha: OK, Zoya, I know you know nothing about him, but what is Ross Lynch's full name?
Zoya: Um... IDK... Ross Lynch... *gasp* I know! Ross Finch Lynch!
Anusha: *Death glare* No. (Tells correct answer)
Zoya: (Roaring with laughter)
Anusha: *Death glare* No.
But what really brought me back is the fact that I'm sensing that my presence will return in another identity, so I'll be here often enough in a month or two. 
Cya later! 
Honor :)
That was really sad. But hey, she'll be back. And what was with that "presence will return in another identity"...?
I guess we'll find out in a few months, according to her - let's hope she's right!

xoxoxoxoxoxoxo,
Zoya


Monday, 1 September 2014

Lemon Delight Cake

Hey all! Sorry about the abandonment of the back-to-school countdown, but I swear once school started I began flying around. One week, and I have volunteered for the talent show, the Urdu Drama, and my own baking club is starting at school this week (yikes! More on that later).


Please ignore the hashtag on the cake...

So, August 14th was my father's birthday. And yes, that's Pakistan's Youm-e-Azaadi (independence day) too. Which explains the #IRONY on the cake.


Okay, I'm not gonna talk much now cos I'm starting to doze off right here and still have a recipe to write ×_×
So, my dad hates everything chocolate. At first I was going to make a campfire cake, but then I saw this amazing lemon meringue cake online... and my dad loves lemons ;). I left out the meringue, though, since I figured they would become soggy, but the magic remains the same.


Happy belated birthday, Dad!

INGREDIENTS

Cake:
3/4 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups flour

Buttercream:
1 cup softened butter
3 cups confectionary sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
Optional: yellow food coloring

2 cups lemon curd


DIRECTIONS
   1.      Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 ° F ( 180 ° C ). Grease and line 3 round cake pans. Set aside. 

   2.      Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. Stir in the remaining ingredients and pour into the prepared pans.

   3.      Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

   4.      Make the frosting: whip the butter and liquids until fluffy. Add the icing sugar and beat well. If desired,  you acn add a few drops of food coloring for a vibrant color.

   5.      Assemble the cake: layer the curd and cake. Let freeze for 30 minutes before frosting. Serve.

xoxoxoxoxoxox, 
Zoya ♡


Thursday, 21 August 2014

Back to School Supplies: Year Seven Countdown #2!

Hey guys! Like I said yesterday, the countdown is ON! Yesterday I gave you guys some delectable Boston cream cupcakes, and today I give you a list of supplies for all you guys joining Years Seven, Six, Five, and more!


This is basic stuff, really, refer to the image above.
Here's the list:

• Water color
• Paintbrushes
• Highlighters
• Mechanical pencils
• Lead for pencils
• Erasers
• Ruler
• Sharpie permanent marker
• Pencil sharpeners
• Glue stick
• 12 #2 pencils
• Post-it notes
• Mini scissors

And that's it!


You'll notice this cute, furry pencil pouch in the picture. I actually stitched this myself a year ago and have been using this since. If you want to do the same, you'll need some base cloth, filler cloth, and a sturdy zipper. The rest is simply in the design.
This is really sturdy and has never failed me once!


And now, for the school bag. Toward the end of Year Six, I began to make myself get used to single-shoulder bag. It's much more convenient than a double-shoulder bag.

I happened to find this one in our 'attic' (no comment). I guess it belonged to one of my sisters, but I still love it. And yes, it says "Let's kill something!" Why not?

I hope this list and these tips help you, and good luck with the new school year!

xoxoxoxoxoxox,
Zoya

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Boston Cream Cupcakes & Year Seven Countdown!

Hey guys! These days I'm always super psyched because... wait for it... I'M GOING TO YEAR SEVEN! That's right, my second year of middle school, first year of the senior side... yikes!


In the midst of everything that has happened during the past few months, I have not changed too much mentally (references: conversations with +Anusha Riaz... she knows the rest...), which is positively screaming "CAUTION: BACK AND CRAZIER THAN EVER!". That’s mainly a caution to everyone who messes with my friends ;). (Cue Return of the Mack)


Well, that actually screaming "JUST DESSERTS" along with that other thing. This year, I wanted to take this up a notch with filling. And you tell me, what better filled thing than Boston cream pie? And what better than the Brown Eyed Baker Michelle's awesome Boston cream cupcakes?


Before we start, I need to announce two things:

1. I'm doing a five-day countdown till the day school starts! (This is #1!)
2. I have now learnt the riff for Safe & Sound, as promised! The video's coming soon!

So stay tuned!




Boston Cream Cupcakes
Makes 12

Ingredients
For the cupcakes,
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup milk
Pinch of salt

For the ganache,
2 cups (16 oz.) dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup condensed or evaporated milk or cream or half-and-half...

For the pastry cream,
2 cups milk (fat content of choice)
3 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
3 tsp lemon juice
1 egg yolk

Directions
1. Make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F, 180°C. Line 12 regular size cupcake tins with paper liners. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract. Alternate between additons of the dry ingredients and milk.

3. Pour the batter into your prepared tins. Bake for 10 - 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

4. Make the ganache: Place the chocolate in a bowl and heat the milk in the microwave or over a stove until almost simmering. Pour it over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute before stirring and placing in the fridge.

5. Make the pastry cream: Bring the first four pastry cream ingredients to a boil, stirring constantly, and the mixture will thicken. When quite thick, remove from the heat and add in the remaining ingredients and whisk for 30 seconds. Pour into a bowl and place in the refrigerator, covered, until cooled completely. When cool, transfer to a pastry bag or ziplock.

6. Assemble the cupcakes: using an apple corer or cupcake corer, gently core the center of the cupcake halfway through; the hole should be about 3/4 - 1/2 inch wide. Fill almost all the way with pastry cream and fit the top back on. Freeze for 30 minutes until fairly cold.

7. Dip the tops of the cupcakes into the cooled ganache. Let the excess drip off, then place in the fridge for 10 more minutes until cool once more. Serve.

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.

xoxoxoxoxoxox,
Zoya

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Peachy! (Smoothies)

I recently discovered (thank you, +Mahnoor!) that achool is starting on the 25th. This is a "WOOT WOOT!" because of my half-nerdedness. Bloody hell, not just 'cuz of my half-nerdedness, but because I'll be able to bake again, I'll have peace and quiet to practice my guitar (for those of you who don't know, my new ambition is to become a guitarist), and, most of all, my FRIENDS.

ALL MY FRIENDS HAVE THEIR YOUNGER/OLDER BROTHERS AND SISTERS.
Why, I have two of those too, but THEY'RE IN BOSTON!
Not that it's you guys' faults, Sanya, Faryal.

Anyway, besides bein' "All By Myself", I have, have, HAVE to beat this sweltering Pakistani heat! That's right, people! It's HI 99°, LO 86°; literally! Smoothies are still churning in this crib! Last year, I gave you guys a pomegranate-banana smoothie, but this time, we're keeping it peachy!

(Note: my mom freezes peeled bananas for anytime she wants banana bread, so I used one from that stash.)


Ingredients - serves 2
1 banana, peeled (see note)
2 chopped, pitted peaches, optionally peeled
1 cup Greek yogurt or other
6 ice cubes
A pinch of cinnamon (or more...) for garnish

Directions
Whirl everything except the cinnamon in the blender until smooth. Pour into two serving glasses and sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve immediately.

xoxoxoxoxoxox,
Zoya ♡

Challah

As said in The King Arthur Flour: Baker's Companion, Challah must be one of the world's most popular breads.

This various-named bread, traditionally made for the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is rich with eggs and butter, which gives it its pale-yellow interior and crisp, dark, golden-brown exterior crust. I used a 3-strand braid, but beautiful 4-or 5-strand braids are a good idea, too.

This recipe starts with a basic quick starter called a sponge, a mixture of 3 vital ingredients: water, flour, and yeast. It's this that results in the lightness of the bread, making it completely irresistible. I would enjoy it with breakfast with a hot mug of tea or coffee...


Challah 

Ingredients

For the starter:
• 1 cup lukewarm water
• 1 cup white flour
• 2 1/2 tsp yeast

For the bread:
• 2 eggs plus 1 yolk (save the white for the wash)
• 1/4 cup each melted butter and white sugar
• 4 cups flour, plus more for kneading
• 1 3/4 tsp salt

For the wash:
• the reserved egg white
• 2 tbsp water 1 tbsp sugar
• seeds from 4 green cardamom pods

Directions

Stir together the starter ingredients and leave to sit for 30 minutes.

After the wait, stir together the starter and the dough ingredients and knead to a smooth dough. This dough is silky and smooth, a joy to work with. Place in an oiled bowl, cover, and let it rise for an hour or until doubled in size.

Once risen, gently flatten the dough and split into three parts. Roll each portion into a long rope, about 15 inches long. Braid them together. Place this braid on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a cloth. Let rise for another half hour.

Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C).

Beat the wash ingredients together and brush onto your braided loaf. Place it in the oven for about 20 minutes until well browned. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before slicing.

I'm off to chuck mine in the oven.
xoxoxoxoxoxox,
Zoya ♡

Monday, 4 August 2014

The Perfect Loaf

Ode to the smell of freshly baking bread, the aroma wafting out of thy (that was not a typo) kitchen and to thy soul!

(I think I'll stop being dramatic now...)

Back to the loaf. The staple of the universe. Well, the staple of America, for that matter...

The shmancy first paragraph of this dedicated post (I'm doing it again!) basically tells you that a good, warm loaf of homemade bread can beat that stale, tasteless hunk of flour and water from the grocery store, no matter what flavor. As long as you have a good recipe, nothing stands between you and a crusty warm loaf of bread.

I'd especially like to say this to my friend Anusha: if you could make those awesomely chewy brownie-cookies, then I bet you could make a perfect loaf, too. Please try this recipe! (But use Saif-Levüre yeast that comes in a small tin, for all of you in Pakistan! The yeast in the cardboard box never works!)

If only you could smell this!

The Perfect Loaf

Ingredients
1 cup warm water
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cups flour
(See? Just a handful of ingredients!)

Directions
In a large mug or small bowl, combine the first four ingredients and stir well. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes until puffy.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and oil. Add in the yeast mixture and stir to form a shaggy dough. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth, then place in a well oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for about an hour until doubled in size.

Once risen, gently flatten the dough and press into a well oiled loaf tin. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F, 180°C.

Pop the dough into the oven gently, without deflating the loaf. Bake for about 30 minutes until the top is golden brown and when you tap the top, it sounds hollow.

Take it out of the oven and remove from the pan. Let cool completely, then brush with butter before cutting snd serving.


xoxoxoxoxoxox,
Zoya

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, voilà, 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 >_<

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

DIY: How To Make Butter

Hey guys!

So,  finally my exams are (technically) over. All I have left is English and Social Studies, no big deal, much, 'cause there's no need for studying. So, exams are OVER! The day of our last exam, social studies (open-book) I'm throwing an end-of-school summer party with a water fight. Then I'm done for the year.


Back to posting. Butter. You know how the cell is the basic unit of structure and function in all living organisms? Just like that, butter, sugar, and flour are the same for all things baked. Obviously, I'm not so idiotic as to actually attempt to make sugar or flour (but hey, why not?), but butter ain't outta question.


I remember once I went to my sister's best friend's house and I was with her sister, Kareena. She wanted me to try to teach her how to make whipped cream. She handed me some heavy cream and a KitchenAid mixer (well, she didn't hand me the KitchenAid) so I gave it a shot.
While we were whipping up heavy cream and powdered sugar (which was working!!), Sanya and Kara walked in. "You know, Kareena, if you whip heavy cream it turns to butter," said Kara after taking a gander at the mixture. I knew that from the Internet, but I had never tried it.


When me and Sanya got home, my mom had put out some fat from the fresh milk and yogurt we got every day. She told us that she was going to make butter out of it. I watched as she beat the fat, known as malai, into a stiff, watery substance with a wooden whisk-like spatula. A few months later, I tried it myself, and it yields an amazing, fresh butter, salted or unsalted, whichever you prefer. If you can,  suggest using malai, which is milk or yogurt fat, if not, simply use heavy cream.


DIY: How To Make Butter by Zoya Mir
yields about 2 cups of unsalted white butter

Ingredients
3 cups heavy (double) cream or malai (milk or yogurt fat)
1 cup ice-cold, freezing cold water

Directions
In a large metal pot, begin to whip the cream or malai on a high speed with an electric mixer. It will start to get fluffier after about 45 seconds (picture 2) . If you'd like, you can set aside a portion of the stuff now for whipped cream when it looks like the third picture. Keep whipping until you see a bit of water coming out and the cream is stiff, about 3-5 minutes. Pour in the water and leave for 30 seconds to chill. Using your hands, form a ball out of the butter (fourth picture) and then into 1/2 or 1/4 cup logs (pictures 1 and 5). Use immediately or wrap in parchment or waxed paper and refrigerate or freeze until use.

Zoya :)





Friday, 6 June 2014

Cheesecake Brownies

Posting on this blog is getting harder and harder as my exams go by. Even now, it's six A.M., an awkward time to post as my science exam starts at ten-thirty. Why am I awake, anyway?

Along with posting, chances for getting in the kitchen are scarce, too. Help!
Not much is going on, either. Oh, wait, yeah, now I remember...

Me, Anusha, Tahira, and a bunch of guys (no names shall be given, hint: it includes Andres and Tim but not Tutor) have gotten into an EPIC CHALK FIGHT TO THE DEATH (ha!). I think I'll call it The Chalker Games (Catching Chalk, MockingiPods (because Anusha and I bring our iPods to school and play them while we fight)).

Oh, Serena wanted me to mention her in this post. So, here you are, Serena, an entire paragraph about you.

That's about it. Down to the recipe, now...


Cheesecake Brownies from epicurious.com 

Ingredients

For the brownie batter,
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup flour

For the cheesecake batter,
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
A splash of vanilla extract

Directions

For the brownie batter:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.
Heat butter and chocolate in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, whisking occasionally, just until melted. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until well combined. Whisk in flour until just combined and spread in baking pan.
Cheesecake batter and bake brownies:
Whisk together cheesecake batter ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Dollop over brownie batter, then swirl in with a knife or spatula.
Bake until edges are slightly puffed and center is just set, about 35 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Zoya :)

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Fudgy Petite Four Squares

Lemme get one thing straight: these babies just scream "I want you".

One can never have too much decadence, right? Well, okay, I'm not exactly crazy for super rich chocolate desserts, particularly chocolate (things I am crazy for: vanilla, strawberries, The Hunger Games books, guitar), but I'm sure you will LOVE this because it is oh so amazing with its cake pop-like bottom and fudgy top.

Ahem. I am waiting for tomorrow to come so I can talk to my best friend Anusha Riaz. (We need to talk, Anusha, or I'm gonna explode. A very serious face-to-face talk.)












INGREDIENTS
For the cake,
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup yogurt
1 cup softened butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp each baking powder and baking soda

1 cup of your favorite frosting
1 cup of chopped nuts is optional

For the fudge topping,
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup softened butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder

DIRECTIONS

In a medium sized bowl, combine the cocoa powder and water. Let cool completely before adding the yogurt (sour cream is a good alternative to yogurt). Set aside.

In a separate medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, along with the vanilla. Stir in the cocoa mixture and fold in the flour mixture.

Pour into a greased 9×13 inch cake pan and bake in a preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the pan and crumble apart. Add the frosting and nuts, if using. Press into a square cake pan lined with parchment paper or wax paper or aluminum foil. Freeze for 15 minutes.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips and butter. Stir in the cocoa. Pour this over the cake mixture and let cool completely before cutting into 2-inch squares. You can make cross-hatches accross the top, if you'd like.

Zoya :)

Friday, 23 May 2014

Graduation Cake Pops

My sister graduated this year from Northeastern University and came to Pakistan for a month to visit us. And she wanted to celebrate. Actually, my mom wanted to. No, it was me. No way! It was my other sister. No, it was... WHATEVER. 


Naturally, as soon as she announced that she was having a graduation party, I darted into the kitchen. However, someone insisted on ordering a cake from CK. As you may have guessed, I felt horrible. So I got to make cake pops instead :).




Ingredients
1 - 9×13 inch cake, flavor of choice, baked and cooled, crumbled
1 1/2 cups frosting
Chocolate for dipping
Ghirardelli sqares or other big square chocolate
Liquorice, frosting, or marshmallows for tassel

Directions
Mix together the frosting and cake until the mixture resembled play dough. Roll into balls. Dip one end of the cake pop stick into the chocolate and push about halfway into the stick. Do this to all your pops. Freeze for forty-five minutes.

Dip each pop into chocolate. Place a Ghirardelli square on each, creating a hat. Pipe, cut, or lace together tassels for the top. Let dry in a block of Styrofoam amd serve.

Zoya ;)

Monday, 12 May 2014

Almond Cake

Can anyone say 'busy'? I haven't updated this blog for over a week! School, school, school.... I've practically been flying around the school, and since the dramas and plays are over, there's our finals coming up, and swimming has started (did I tell you I'm on the school team?), then I have to shadow teach, and... there's enough to fill an entire lecture.

With that, I didn't have time to bake or practice my hobbies, so for Mother's day, I made my mother an almond cake all sprinkled with icing sugar. I also used a layer of carrot cake, but that is totally optional. You can find that recipe here, from Allrecipes (if you do use this recipe, add an extra teaspoon of vanilla and brown sugar instead of white).


Ingredients
3/4 cup whole almonds
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. almond extract
3 eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Directions
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the sides of the cake pan and line the bottom of it with a round of parchment paper.

Place the almonds, sugar, salt, and almond extract in the bowl of a food processor and process until the nuts are finely pulverized. Add the eggs and butter, pulse to blend thoroughly. Add the flour and baking powder and pulse just until blended.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Bake until the cake is golden brown on top and a toothpick plunged into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on the rack.

To unmold, slide a slim knife or spatula around the cake to release the sides. Cover the pan with a plate and invert both. Remove the cake pan, peel off the parchment liner, and turn the cake right side up. Dust lightly with powdered sugar before serving, if desired. Tightly wrapped, the cake keeps well at room temperature for several days.

Zoya :)