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Ramadan after 10 years

This is our 11th Ramadan as an expat family in Dubai. Each year we have  learned and appreciated how it can be special for us too.

Looking back, our first Ramadan here was very different. A lot of things freaked me out – no place to buy food; we might get deported if we eat; we can’t go out during the day. Crazy!

Below are some questions we often get asked. This has also been some of my worries when we first moved here.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is considered the holiest time in the Islamic Calendar.
It is a time for prayer, reflection, and religious devotion to cleanse past sins and do good deeds. For 30 days, Muslims wake up before dawn to consume their first meal, called Suhoor; they then refrain from consuming water & food during the day; breaking of fast happens at sunset which is called Iftar.

Here is a link to a short video produced by Tani of Our Big Dubai Adventure & Zeyna of Mummy on my Mind, explaining what Ramadan is to our kids.

Are you allowed to eat?

Yes, non-Muslims are allowed to eat at home and outside BUT we should be respectful to those who are fasting by not eating and drinking publicly during the day. Kids are allowed to drink and eat in public but we prefer to do this discreetly.

Can you still buy food or dine at restaurants during the day?

Groceries, food delivery, and some restaurants are open during the day.

To accommodate tourists and residents who are not fasting, malls and some establishment have designated covered area for people to eat. Base on experience, adults are allowed to consume food at the food court by 1pm.

Our friend, Foodiva has compiled a list of restaurants open for daytime dining during Ramadan.

Do you have to wear an abaya when going outside?

No. Everyone is requested to dress modestly – shoulders, chest, and knees should be covered. We have always observed dressing modestly all through out the year. 

Are establishments (restaurants/malls) close during the day?

No, it’s business as usual even on Ramadan. Although, plenty has changed timing operations. My husband’s company has shortened working hours. Malls stay open until past midnight.

Do kids get a school holiday during the month?

No. They do however have shortened school timings during the month. School timings start an hour late and end an hour earlier.

Do you need to act differently during the day when out?

Not really, we go about our normal schedule like any other day. It is, however, important to be mindful and remember that Ramadan is a Holy Month. Everyone is asked to dress modestly and behave appropriately – keep music levels to a minimum and of course, no public displays of affection.

Our impression and experience of Ramadan has changed, I can say that this has become one of our favorite time of the year.

To witness first hand the kindness happening around us during this month is a blessing itself. You will often see people distribute meals in time for Iftar, children with their families filling up Ramadan Fridges with water and food that is free for anyone to take. To see people gather around the mosque to have Iftar together is a sight that just fills your heart with love.

Suhoor and Iftar shared with friends we have considered family is a gathering that we will always cherish. 

I am extremely grateful that my kids get to grow up here in the Middle East. Living here has taught us to celebrate all religions, all culture, traditions and to respect each persons beliefs.

Ramadan Kareen!

Easy Pancake Recipe

This pancake recipe consists of ingredients that is probably a staple in your kitchen. I have been whipping up this recipe as a child and now with my children.

mini pancake

We have also been packing it for school lunch. I make it ahead of time and store in the fridge.


Pancake Mix

Make it ahead of time for by mixing all dry ingredients, store on a sealed jar. Once the pancake craving kicks in, just add all the liquid ingredients as listed on the recipe.


Easy Pancake Recipe

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Source: cuddlesandcrumbs.com
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 tbsp Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Milk
  • 1 large Egg
  • 2 tbsp Butter, melted
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Directions

  1. Dry Ingredients: In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt.
  2. Wet Ingredients: In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, egg and melted butter.
  3. Stir in wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined. Lumps on batter are perfectly fine.
  4. Place a pan over medium-low heat. Grease with oil.
  5. Scoop batter on hot pan, I suggest you use ice cream scooper. Once bubbles appear, flip pancakes and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes until pancakes are cooked through.
  6. Enjoy with butter, maple syrup and jam.


Strawberry Chia Jam

Bread, butter and jam makes me happy.

At one event hosted by Tavola for Panasonic Bread Machine, I tasted a delicious homemade jam. The simple, fresh and pure taste of the jam made by Rebecca just lingered that I had to make one at home too.

Three ingredients is all you need to make this jam at home. I must insist though that you get the freshest (organic) ingredients possible, because it does make a difference.

strawberry chia jam
Banana ChocoChip Bread with Strawberry Jam

 Cooking time

The cooking time depends on the type fruit you choose. For the strawberries it took me around 6 minutes until the fruit came to a soft boil.

Take it off the heat, add chia seeds and add sweetener of choice. Let it sit for a couple of minutes. You’re done!

strawberry chia jam

Chia Seeds

A key ingredient on turning your cooked fruit to a spreadable consistency. Chia seeds is a super food that contains more calcium than milk, known to boost energy, stabilize blood sugar, aid digestion, and lower cholesterol.

Flavors

Make jam more interesting by adding fresh herbs, zest and vitality oils. For the second batch of jam, I played with adding flavors with the use of  vitality essential oils from Young Living – basil and orange.

Strawberry Chia Jam

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Source: cuddlesandcrumbs.com
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 500 grams Strawberries, diced
  • 1 tbsp Honey, or any sweetener of choice
  • 1/2 tbsp. Chia Seeds

Directions

  1. Add strawberries to a saucepan and cook over medium heat.
  2. Cook until strawberries come to a soft boil or when the fruit breaks down and become liquidly, around 5-8 minutes.
  3. Remove pan from heat. Use an emersion blender to mash strawberries to your liking, I prefer mine lumpy.
  4. Add honey and chia seeds, stir. Let sit for a few minutes to allow chia seeds to bloom.
  5. Taste jam and add about 1/2 tbsp. more if you like it sweeter. The jam will continue to thicken. You may need to add more chia seeds if you use high liquid fruits.
  6. Transfer to glass jar, once jam has reached room temperature.


Chia jam can last up to 2 weeks when stored in an air tight container inside the fridge.

strawberry chia jam

My Word for 2019

Happy 2019!

THRIVE is my #onelittleword for 2019. It is a personal challenge to thrive: in my family, marriage, health, relationships, business and in all areas of my life. To awaken that desire within me to improve and be the person I was created to be.

thrive:

1. to grow vigorously; flourish

2. to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances

As a recap, I chose the word COURAGE to guide me thru 2018 because of the sudden changes that we were about to face. I did just that – have learned to accept that I need courage to find happiness in situations that I don’t have any control off.

What is your word for 2019?

#OneLittleWord concept was introduced by Ali Edwards, read more about it here.

Choosing one word is more doable for me as I have to go back to just that one word as a reminded as I go about my daily life. Friends have shared their word over at Instagram, check it our in this link.

Meydan Friday Family Brunch

Are you looking for a brunch that would tick the box for great food, drinks and keeping the kids occupied?  The Friday Family Brunch at Meydan Hotel definitely ticked off every thing in the list.

There is a massive buffet with a dozen of live-cooking stations spread in the garden area overlooking Dubai skyline and inside Farriers restaurant and foyer, offers an extensive culinary journey from around the globe featuring European, Middle Eastern, Asian and South American cuisines together with a wide variety of vegetarian specialties. Furthermore, BBQ lovers (that’s us!) are in for a treat, Meydan culinary chefs are making use of Josper which is the top-of-the-line Spanish ‘grill & oven’ known for its environment friendly aspect, consuming lower charcoal than open grill. Believe me, the richly flavored grilled meat has a deep smoke flavor that would make you come back for more.

While the offerings is massive, it does not feel overwhelming  because of the floor to ceiling glass walls that brings in natural light, sitting area is not cramped that you can even let go of the kids and roam around the area without worrying they would bother fellow diners.

To make this a top notch family friendly brunch they have prepared exclusive children offerings, a larger kids area with fun activities, supervised by a dedicated and trained team. Fun activities include face painting, drawing, arts & crafts, balloon twisting, PlayStation games, bouncy castles and weekly surprise activities that will keep the kids entertained.

I advise you to feed them well before letting them go and have the best time.  My kids only stayed in our table because we demanded that they eat their food after that both rushed to the play area and got busy.

Our brunch experience made even more special when the staff presented our eldest son a birthday cake. Meydan Hotel has earned a special spot in our hearts because of this sweet gesture.

Overall, the Meydan Family Friday Brunch is an absolute treat. The ambience is welcoming and relaxed, the staff are friendly and helpful, and the buffet has a wide range of offerings that would satisfy every taste. We stayed until the last hour which we don’t often do, that only means we really had a relaxing brunch.

Meydan Friday Family Brunch

Every Friday from 12:30pm – 4:00pm and is priced at AED 290 per person (including food soft, beverages and juices- price inclusive VAT); at AED 400 per person (including food and selected house beverage- price inclusive VAT) at ‘Farriers restaurant’ at the lobby level. Children up to 4 years enjoy complimentary brunch, 50% discount for children from 5 up to 12 years old (AED 120 per child – price inclusive VAT ).

Advance bookings required, please contact +971 4 381 3111  or book at https://themeydanhotel.com/brunch

Disclosure: We were invited for the Meydan Friday Family. All views and opinions are my own.

Recipe: Pizza Cupcakes

Pizza is a complete meal in one bite. Agree? 

This is one meal that my kids can eat every day without question even when it has vegetables as toppings. Well, except for Chloe who would only touch a pepperoni pizza. 

The sad truth about pizza though is that it is best eaten straight out of the oven. Packing them for lunchbox is a hit and miss depending on the crust, it can get soggy.

pizza cupcake

Cupcakes that taste like your favorite pizza only this one does not get soggy when packed for school lunch or road trip. PERFECT! 

One important thing to remember when you make these, use a silicon or grease proof cupcake liner because they will stick to regular ones.  Another option is to not use liners at all and just grease your cupcake pans.

Pizza Cupcake

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Source: cuddlesandcrumbs.com
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsps. Baking Powder
  • 1 1/4 cups Milk
  • 1 large Egg
  • 1/4 cup Oil
  • 2 tsps. Dried Oregano / Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Pizza Sauce
  • 1 cup Mozzarella Cheese (reserve 1/2 cup for toppings)
  • Pepperoni Slices

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 190C. Line cupcake pan with grease proof liners.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, dried seasoning and salt in a mixing bowl. Add oil, milk and eggs; mix until combined. Batter will be thick.
  3. Spoon 2 tablespoons batter to each cupcake. Fill it with pizza sauce, cheese, pepperoni slices.
  4. Final, top it off with a spoonful of cake batter, sauce, cheese and more pepperoni pizza.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Check cupcakes at 15 minutes, when toothpick come out clean when inserted in the middle of batter and tops are perfectly melted then cupcake is done.

Swissotel The Playhouse Brunch

Swissotel Hotel which opened early this year at Al Ghurair Dubai recently launched The Playhouse Brunch in Liwan Restaurant  which focuses on keeping the little diners entertained.

A brunch can last up to 4 hours long and the truth is kids are fed within the first 30 minutes after which they are just bored waiting for the adults to be done.  As a mom one of the important brunch element I am looking for is keeping the kids entertained with engaging activities. Happy kids means a relaxing brunch for parents. 

Swissotel Playhouse Brunch

A dedicated room where kids can play, have their face painted, work on some crafts and a Nintendo Switch for bigger kids. Another area was all about “playing with food” where the kids get to design cupcakes and cookies with the guidance of Swissotel Chef’s.

Parents can dine at peace because the hotel went an extra mile with the installation of CCTV cameras on all the kids area. Wide screen TV are strategically placed in the dining area for the parents to view while enjoying a wide range of international buffet. 

Liwan Restaurant offers different cuisines with live cooking stations, we were on their grill station quite a lot. A wide selection of dedicated kids buffet offered the classic favorite like pasta, fries, corn and nuggets. Enjoying every bite is an understatement because every thing was delicious in our opinion. The desserts were to die for! A chocolate lover will be in heaven as they have a section of artisanal Swiss Chocolate dessert spread.

The Playhouse Brunch – Swissôtel

Every Friday from 12:30 to 4:00 pm and is priced at AED 160 for adults and AED 80 for children. Kids under 5 years old dine for free.

Telephone: +971 4 293 3000 | Email: AlGhurair@swissotel.com

Time Out Dubai Kids Awards 2018

A recognition of any form for something one is passionate about is a big pat in the back that you are doing a great job.

Every year when the list for Time Out Kids Awards comes out a little sparkle  of hope lingers that maybe just maybe this year I will see my name on the list. To see Cuddles and Crumbs on the list of Parent Blog for the Time Out Dubai Kids Awards 2018 was a surprise. I honestly feel like a winner!

Time Out Dubai Kids Awards Night 2018 Abigail Caidoy
Our family photo was scrolling on the big screen before the event started. 

My glammed up look was all thanks to friends who loaned me the dress, shoes and bag for the night. Thank you Chiqui and Mheann! I needed to have an Oscar worthy hair and make-up that was made possible by Shella Amer

MakeUp by Shella Amer
For bookings & inquiries, email ShellaAmerMua@gmail.com

It was a night to remember because I was all glammed up for a black tie event. My sweet Joy Caasi of The Thrift Trip was the best date one could ask for. I honestly would have not attended the event if Joy did not join me. 

A huge THANK YOU to all our friends online who have been following us on Instagram, Facebook and reading our blog.