Best Gluten Free King Cake Recipe and Year Round Holiday Tree Decorations

Does anybody remember El theme weeks? Click here for a refresher if you weren’t with us then. Recap: We had a theme for every week during the summer when the kids were little. We had simple themes like WATER WEEK, ZOO ANIMAL WEEK, WEATHER WEEK and more. It was super fun and kept us all busy.

El Momma and Jimmie (2 years old) enjoying Mardi Gras

We haven’t had theme weeks since the Els got older and summers got much busier. But, I feel like our year round holiday tree is sort of moving us back in the theme week direction! And, I am here for it.

El Mardi Gras Tree

The Valentine tree was a super easy transition from the Christmas tree. We published our first Valentine’s Day Gift guide here, so it was great to be in the theme of Valentine’s Day from mid January through Valentine’s week. Next up, Mardi Gras.

Check out two Videos below highlighting our GF King cake and Mardi Gras tree!

Gluten Free King Cake

We transitioned the tree from reds and pinks to gold, green and purple and added Mardi Gras ornaments. On Shrove Tuesday, aka Fat Tuesday we celebrated with dinner and our first attempt at a Gluten Free King Cake. Click here for the recipe from Gluten Free Jules. This cake was so delicious!! And could easily be made as a gluten free coffee cake, using sugar in place of the green, gold and purple sugar.

We are having so much fun with our holiday tree. Comment below to let us know what you think. Any ideas for the St Patrick’s Day tree?

Gluten Free King Cake

Valentine’s to Mardi Gras TREE

Do you have suggestions on how we should decorate our tree next? We will likely decorate for St Patrick’s Day next, followed by Easter. Any ideas after that?

El Momma's Valentine's Day Gift Guide

LOVE THESE BEST VALENTINE GIFTS FOR HER, HIM, TEACHERS AND ALL

We are thrilled to present the 2022 Valentine’s Day gift guide. Please note that, although we have loosely categorized “who” the gift is for, many of the gift ideas we share can work for multiple recipients. We love giving more than receiving and know that your loved ones will feel loved, if you put that extra thought and effort into their gift.

Happy Valentine’s Day! May you give and receive love this year.

Love,

Rebekah, El Momma

For Her

At FindItGirl, she has gifts for every occasion. FIND IT GIRL We especially love the curated items for the home with the love theme. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t need a little more reminders of love around the home throughout every season? The velvet hearts and heart dough bowls are just a few of our favorite finds from FindItGirl this Valentine’s season.

FindItGirl

Glow Like A Mother set of 3 beauty items for mom. https://gorgeousconfidence.com/ Momma deserves to be pampered! The GLAM set includes Cleanse, Hydralux Serum and rich Hydration cream. This has become my go to beauty routine day and night. My husband says I already look younger.

The Pink Enamel Heart Twist Cuff in gold by Isabelle Grace is one of my favorite gifts. https://www.isabellegracejewelry.com/products/enamel-heart-twist-cuff A portion of the proceeds from this cuff are donated to the fight against breast cancer. PS. everything from this line is handmade in the USA. Order soon for Valentine’s Day delivery. Click here to see more options “for her” this Valentine’s.

If your girl (or your guy) is a chocolate lover, let me introduce you to Blissfully Better. Made in small batches and handcrafted in copper kettles, Blissfully Better’s Almond Toffee, Crunchy Quinoa Toffee, Caramel, Coconut, and Mint Thins are the perfect indulgence. (I am gluten free and although not certified gluten free, there is no gluten used) Certified Organic and sweetened only with low glycemic coconut nectar, Blissfully Better is better for you and you will definitely taste the difference!

I love LOVE and I especially love ♥️ 💗 💕. These jewelry pieces are of good quality and are reasonably priced. I’m also pretty loyal to Nordstrom as they accept returns with no cost to the customer and no questions asked. If there ever is an issue, as long as they can find a record of your purchase, they will stand by the products they sell. I love that!

Click here to shop at Nordstrom online

For Him

Awaken his senses with the feeling of a hot towel shave. The Art of Shaving Heated Razor Starter Kit includes: Heated Razor, 2x GilletteLabs blades, and charging station. And the reviews are top notch!

Barrel and Oak Hair Thickening Shampoo. Does your guy worry about the appearance of hair loss? I got this product for my husband. According to Barrel and Oak’s website “Coffee is nutrient & antioxidant-rich, which is good for scalp & hair health. Our Caffeinated Thickening Shampoo helps rebalance pH levels, which reduces dry damaged hair & breakage. Invigorating for all hair types.” He loves it so far!

Barrel and Oak Caffeinated Thickening Shampoo

For the Pet Owner

For anyone concerned with leaving the house covered in lint, the De Novo Deluxe Self Cleaning Lint Brush is the gift for them! The De Novo™ Deluxe Self-Cleaning Lint Brush is a revolutionary way to keep your clothes lint-free and in tip-top condition. The magical bristles on this brush attract the pet hair and lint directly to it, making it so much easier for you to clean.

Unlike any other lint brush on the market, the De Novo™ Deluxe Self-Cleaning Lint Brush comes completely apart, designed to make it easier for you to rinse the inside bristles so that the self-cleaning component lasts longer. Did I mention they offer a 100% money back guarantee?

For Family (kids-adults-anyone)

Send a stuffed animal package! https://sendafriend.co/ Through Send a Friend, you can send a care package with an adorable stuffed animal. Not only will you spread smiles and joy, but when you send a friend, they donate 10% of your total purchase to nonprofit organizations. See a list of recent donations here made through SendAFriend.co

You can customize a gift on collage.com. We chose to create a custom family calendar at https://collage.com In 10 minutes, I uploaded pictures from last year and placed them in the design in the appropriate month. We love how it turned out. Plus, we now have wonderful memories to look back on and hope for in the future.

Customize Products for Everyone at collage.com

We recently discovered QUOTEBOOK. https://quotebookjournal.com/ Quotebook is a notebook for recording the things people say to each other. When I read about Quotebook, we had to try it. Our kids, especially, and sometimes Mom and Dad are always saying the funniest things that I hope we remember, but we sometimes forget. This is a great way to keep the whole family involved, as we say those funny things that we never want to forget. Our very first quote written in this book was by baby Jimmie and it’s the cutest memory ever. We can’t wait to fill this QUOTEBOOK!

QUOTEBOOK
Click here to shop these Valentine Finds at Nordstrom

Here we have curated several Valentine’s Day themed items for most of our family members. The heart print lounge set for our teen daughter plus the grey heart sleep pants or shorts with a scrunchy are her favorites. We also have a couple of pajama options for Mom. My top choice right now are the navy pajamas. They are incredibly soft. Moustapha picked out these leopard print pajama pants for him. I must say, he looks so hot in them! In addition, we found this super soft Little Giraffe Luxe baby blanket also available in pink and so many adorable outfits for your little girl.

For Kids

Feltman Brothers makes clothes for little ones that you will never want to give away.  This Scalloped Contrast Trim Knit set is perfect for your baby girl on Valentine’s Day.

We also love this color block knit set in baby blue for our Jimmie. It comes in blue shades (pictured) and pink shades. We have always loved Feltman Brothers and have many keepsake outfits our children can hand down to their children one day. I love getting gifts that last for years and generations to come.

Mabel’s Labels are perfect to label all of your kids items. Mabel’s Labels are laundry and dishwasher safe. We got heart shaped labels with the kid’s names on them. I also got some personalized for me too.

For Teachers

Mabel’s Labels are also a great teacher gift. Mabel’s Labels are custom made and a thoughtful gift for that teacher that seems to have everything, but loves to be organized. Plus, they are super cute.

One month subscription to MyYogaTeacher yoga platform as a wellness gift for teachers. MyYogaTeacher provides LIVE (not pre-recorded) yoga lessons (private and group) with expert Indian yoga teachers. I’ve really enjoyed the two-way interaction which has helped me practice safely and stay motivated.

MyYogaTeacher

We would love to hear from you!

Email me at rebekah@elmomma.com

Please join me on Instagram here

DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, we receive a commission at no additional cost to you-- 

How To Make Yummy Goodness (macaroni, mixed veggies and ground beef in Alfredo sauce)

Using only 4 main ingredients, this is easily the favorite and simplest meal we created over this last year.

  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
  • Chopped white onion
  • Kosher salt and fresh black pepper to preference
  • 1 lb of ground beef
  • cooked pasta of choice (I used gluten free macaroni)
  • Cooked veggies (I use mixed frozen veggies)
  • Alfredo sauce

I am so excited to share this recipe with you all.

How to Make the easiest and best dinner for your family in 30 minutes or less Using ONLY 4 MAIN INGREDIENTS!

Family Favorite: Lebanese Cauliflower, ground beef & Rice

Here’s another Lebanese inspired dish that we make once every week or so. My kids request this one. They absolutely love it. We all do. They literally want this dish at least once a week.

At this point, you may be wondering, “how do you get your kids to eat these amazing meals with vegetables?” The answer is pretty simple. I never made separate meals. From the time the older Els were little and currently with our toddler, we make a family meal and eat it together. Of course we have nights where people make their own dinner and eat whatever they want. But, as a practice, I make a meal for the family and offer it to everyone. I don’t like to make an issue out of food. So, we’ve never told our kids they had to clean their plates. We do encourage them to try new foods and at this point we’ve built up a good level of trust- I ((mostly)) serve them delicious dishes. There was that one time I made chick pea noodles in 2020. (Gross!) See below for the Lebanese Cauliflower, ground beef and rice directions and quick video. Please comment and let me know if you make this delicious dish!

Quick Video “How to make Lebanese cauliflower, ground beef and rice by El Momma”

Video: How to make this awesome dish in 90 seconds!

Lebanese Cauliflower & ground beef Ingredients

Makes approximately 8 servings

  • 2-3 large whole cauliflowers. Cut to florets
  • Your choice of cooked white rice
  • [1] TB extra virgin olive oil
  • [1] chopped white onion
  • [1] pound ground beef
  • [1] TB 7 spices (recipe for seven spices included below)
  • [1] tsp kosher salt
  • [1] tsp ground pepper
  • 1 jar 24 Oz of diced tomatoes (I prefer roasted garlic)
  • 14 Oz crushed Tomatoes (I use Italian variety)
  • plain yogurt (optional) for garnish

*A very important ingredient of many lebanese dishes is 7 spices. 7 Spices are made with a mix of the following spices: all spice, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander, caraway and nutmeg. I buy this through our local grocer, Phoenicia. I’ve also purchased on Amazon. * Recipe for my homemade seven spices blend is included at the bottom of this post.

Directions

Step 1: Rinse and cut the cauliflower into florets. Set aside.

Step 2: In a separate pot, cook the rice per directions on rice bag/box.

Step 3: Using a 2 1/2 – 3 inch deep skillet that has a fitted glass lid, cook the chopped onion and ground beef at medium heat in the olive oil. Add the 7 spices, pepper and salt and mix well. Careful not to over cook the meat.

Step 4: fold in the cauliflower, crushed and diced tomatoes. Mix well. Cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes with lid on, stirring occasionally at medium low to medium heat.

Step 5: serve hot over a bed of rice. Add a dollop of plain yogurt when serving.

7 Spices Ingredients

7 Spices

Makes approximately 3 1/2 tablespoons of 7 spices

  • 1T allspice,
  • 1T cinnamon,
  • 1t ground cloves,
  • 1t cumin,
  • 1t coriander,
  • 1/2 t caraway
  • 1/2 t nutmeg

A 2020 Trend that should Stay…the Charcuterie Board

If you’ve been at home like most of us, you (likely) have tried new dishes, cleaned out closets, looked through and shared old photographs and gotten into Instagram inspired redecorating projects!

One of my favorite trends of this year is the Charcuterie Board. I actually started making Charcuterie Boards on the regular during the 2019 holiday season.

Charcuterie is a French word that means cut meats. First of all, let’s say it together. “Charr-coot-irree.” When we talk about a charcuterie board, we are talking about a display of Meats, cheeses and other finger foods.

Some of our best friends, who hosted my 40th birthday and (later) baby shower for Baby Jimmie at their home, make the best charcuterie boards. Literally if they ever ask me what I want to eat at their home- my answer is simple. Charcuterie! They are really good at knowing the best cheeses. I have another friend who WON a Charcuterie board contest. If you are serious Charcuterie connoisseur, this post is ((probably)) not for you!

Instead, if you are intimidated by all of the perfectly Insta-styled charcuterie boards across Pinterest and Instagram, I am here to tell you that you can create an amazing Charcuterie board that you and your guests will enjoy! Don’t be scared!

The basics-

  • A board- I purchased a couple off of Amazon. This marble one Fox Run 3827 Marble Pastry Board https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0036AQ0IC?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share AND this large, double sided wood cutting board Large Wood Cutting Board with… https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XRTHJDH?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share
  • Meats- I typically use whatever I have on hand. Salami and prosciutto work fine.
  • Cheese- this is where I pay a little more focus. I love cheeses. I have baked Brie in the past, although that’s not what I do for a quick board. I usually have a Brie, goat cheese, assortment of Gouda, sharp cheddar, and cheese logs that many times involve honey. You can basically do whatever you like with cheeses, but most people like a variety.
  • Crackers- everything I buy is gluten free. My favorites are these Absolutely Gluten Free Crackers, Original 4.4-Ounce https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0078DQ3DU/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glc_fabc_7j24Fb0F8NKGW But, I always put out an assortment of crackers. Gluten free pretzel sticks are a must!
  • Fruit: blueberries, raspberries, seedless grapes and strawberries
  • Most of what gets placed on the tray doesn’t need to be in a container. But, if you have some items that you want to contain or don’t want touching, you can use muffin papers. I buy muffin papers in bulk to use when I make breakfast ahead on the weekends. So, I have a lot of them laying around. Perfect to put a handful of m&ms in.
  • Some items that most charcuteries have are nuts (the Els don’t care for them and we have a nephew who is allergic) I also added Brazi Bites, Empanadas Black Bean Cheddar Gluten-Free, 10 Ounce https://www.amazon.com/dp/B083X741Y6/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glc_fabc_Xp24FbWRN1J8G These are so good! I baked them for 20 minutes and just put them across in the middle of the board. Dips are great too. We make the creamiest, best hummus. Recipe here- https://pin.it/Yhvu5Jd If you are going to buy hummus- Grandma’s Hummus out of Austin, Texas is the best store bought hummus around. Guacamole is also a great addition to the board. Don’t forget to include corn tortilla chips!

All you need to do now is make your display. Think of it like a work of art where you want to have balance and symmetry- not all of the bright colors or same colors together. I usually place the meats first, then cheeses and then add the fruits throughout the board.

That’s it! As you can see, my (throw it together in 20 minutes) charcuterie board is not difficult, but it was devoured and makes our nights feel a little less blah and a little more voila!

Another Favorite- Lebanese Green Beans, Ground lamb & Rice

Add this green beans, lamb and rice to the list of our family favorites. We make this dish every 1-2 weeks. I usually use about 3 pounds of green beans and 1 – 2 pounds of ground lamb. A very important ingredient of many lebanese dishes is 7 spices. 7 Spices are made with a mix of the following spices: all spice, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander, caraway and nutmeg. I buy this through our local grocer, Phoenicia. I’ve also purchased on Amazon.

7 Spices

Makes approximately 3 1/2 tablespoons of 7 spices

  • 1T allspice,
  • 1T cinnamon,
  • 1t ground cloves,
  • 1t cumin,
  • 1t coriander,
  • 1/2 t caraway
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
Quick Video “How To Make Lebanese Green Beans, Lamb & Rice by El Momma”

How to make this awesome dish in 90 seconds!

Lebanese Green Beans, Ground Lamb and Rice

Makes approximately 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of fresh green beans, snapped and ends removed
  • [1] TB salt (for boiling green beans)
  • Your choice of cooked white rice
  • [1] TB extra virgin olive oil
  • [1] chopped white onion
  • [1] pound ground lamb
  • [1] TB 7 spices
  • [1] TB kosher salt
  • [1] tsp ground pepper
  • plain yogurt (optional) for garnish

Directions

Step 1: Rinse, drain, remove ends and snap the green beans. Prepare pot of water with 1 Tablespoon of salt. Add beans, bring to a boil and boil for 4-5 minutes. Prepare ice water bath. Drain cooked beans in colander. Submerge in ice bath. Drain and Pat dry.

Step 2: In a separate pot, cook the rice per directions on rice bag/box.

Step 3: Using a 2 1/2 – 3 inch deep skillet that has a fitted glass lid, cook the chopped onion and ground lamb at medium heat in the olive oil. Add the 7 spices, pepper and salt and mix well. Careful not to over cook the meat.

Step 4: fold in the green beans, cover and cook for an additional 20 minutes with lid on, stirring occasionally at medium low to medium heat.

Step 5: serve hot over a bed of rice. Add a dollop of plain yogurt when serving.

El Momma's Lebanese Grape Leaves

Warak Enab: How To Make the Best Stuffed Grape Leaves Ever!

RECIPE and VIDEO BLOG INCLUDED
I make this recipe several times a year, including Easter lunch for the last 10 years ! They are so delicious. (Dare I say that they are even better reheated the second day?!) This remains my most viewed blogpost. I know exactly why- these are the most amazing to eat and well worth all the work, love and effort to make them.
Watch this youtube video for detailed instructions.
And, Scroll down for directions on how to make the BEST LEBANESE GRAPE LEAVES IN THE WORLD! Seriously, they are so good.

I recorded this on Facebook Live in 2016 in our home we lived in for 15 years. Enjoy! love, El Momma

<<El Momma Tip>> If you don’t want the history behind this recipe, or you’ve read this before, please scroll on down to The “INGREDIENTS List.” The ingredients are separated by what we need for the rice lamb mix, boiling the lamb shanks and the final touches for cooking the grape leaves and serving.

After the ingredients list, I’ve included photos of all the items you will need to shop for. You will also need a large pot for boiling the shanks and cooking the rolled, stuffed grape leaves. Be sure to clean out the pot in between. You will also need small plates to place on top of the pot of grape leaves. This will hold them down in the water, while letting them cook fully.

Let me give you a little history as to why you won’t regret making this recipe and consider this a recipe from an expert. After 10 years making these several times a year, I now am officially a Lebanese Grape Leaf making expert!

My husband’s father’s family is from Lebanon. My father-in-law moved to the United States in the 70’s to attend a university and met my mother-in-law. She is a fifth generation Texan. She was an adventurer and loved to travel abroad. So, while dating my father-in-law, she took off on a great adventure to meet his parents and learn about the Lebanese culture. While in Lebanon, she embraced the culture and his family. His family loved her, taught her many things and she was a bright shining star (and a blonde -aired beauty) who they enjoyed having in Lebanon very much!

Luckily, for all of us, she married my father-in-law and is an amazing cook! Many years later, she continues to be an expert in cooking Middle Eastern faire. I asked her to teach me and this is the result. I continue to look back at this recipe each and every time I make Grape Leaves. 

Please note, if you have ever had grape leaves that were cold at a restaurant- you probably did not have grape leaves like this. These are served hot and they have lamb and rice in them- they are not vegetarian.

If you decide to try this, please reply to this post, comment here or on pinterest. I’d love to hear how it goes!

The first challenge: What to buy and where to shop. If you are in the Houston area- there are many grocers that specialize in Middle Eastern foods. A great one is Phoenicia. It is like a Sam’s Club for Middle Eastern food. It is huge. Their westheimer location even has fresh pita bread that comes down from a conveyer belt in the middle of the store. It’s entertaining for adults and kids alike.

INGREDIENTS list for 2 lbs of ground lamb mixture:

  • 2 lbs of high quality ground lamb
  • 2 Tablespoons of 7 spices for lamb/rice mixture 1T per lb of ground lamb)
  • 2 Tablespoons of salt (1T per lb of ground lamb)
  • 3 cups of Calrose Rice (Riz Masri)
  • 2 jars of Orlando California Grape Leaves, 16 oz. each (rinsed thoroughly with stems removed)

INGREDIENTS list for boiling lamb shanks

  • 4 pounds of lamb shank (approximately 4 shanks will fill the bottom of a large boiling pot or dutch oven)
  • 1 Tablespoon 7 spices
  • 1 Tablespoon of kosher salt

Remaining INGREDIENTS to prepare for serving

  • Juice of several lemons to make 1 cup of lemon juice to pour over pot just before serving
  • 1 bunch of mint leaves for garnish
  • 1 or 2 bunches of green onions for garnish
  • optional to serve with Labne (A Lebanese Yogurt spread) (top with olive oil and sliced tomatoes)
  • arabic bread
  • fresh lebanese hummus (recipe and How to Video HERE)

Grave leaves. Buy 2 jars of Orlando California Grape leaves. They are stored in a jar so that they will remain preserved. I used 2 jars of grape leaves to roll approximately 150 grape leaves. Remember the grape leaves must be washed thoroughly before you cook with them, or your result will be REALLY SALTY grape leaves!
7 spices. We will use this to season the lamb and the rice. I have made this in the past. Search up “Lebanese 7 spices” for recipes.

5 pound bag of Calrose Rice (Riz Masri)

Lamb Shanks
Ground lamb

Lemons for garnish and lemon juice (which we will use for the last few minutes while cooking the grape leaves.)

We also need salt. That’s all we need for our ingredients. Now, it’s time to get to work!

First, we must rinse the grape leaves. As I mentioned above, this is a crucial step. Without rinsing the leaves, they will be very salty and not taste good at all.
Now, let’s boil the lamb shanks. Get a large pot of water.
Add one tablespoon of 7 spices

And add one table spoon of kosher salt. Place the lamb shanks in the pot and bring water to a boil. Cover and simmer for half an hour. (if the shanks are frozen simmer for 1 hour) The shanks do not need to be completely cooked at this point, because they will cook more with the grape leaves.

In a separate bowl, we will make the rice/ground lamb mixture. We will start with rinsing the rice. Use 1.5 cups of rice per pound of ground lamb.  Add water to the rice and rinse. This will make the rice easier to work with. I usually rinse the rice in a very fine colander.
Add the ground lamb and a 1 tablespoon 7 spices per pound of ground lamb to the drained rinsed rice. Add 1 tablespoon of salt per pound of ground lamb. Mix this together well.

Lay the grape leaf (shiny side down) on a plate with the stem at the top. Cut the stem off the top. (To simplify this step, I pull off the stem as I wash each leaf individually)
Pinch a small amount of the ground lamb/rice mixture, as pictured and place in the middle of one grape leaf

Wrap the grape leaf, like a present, bringing up the sides first and then loosely rolling the entire thing together. The shiny part of the leaf should be down so that it is the outside of the roll, once the grape leaf is rolled around the ground lamb and rice. Make sure to roll loosely. This will give the rice room to expand as it cooks in the grape leaf. If you roll too tightly, the grape leaves will not be able to stay together and they will pop open as they cook.Always remove the stem. Also, if the grape leaves are too large they can be cut in half.
Carefully place the rolled grape leaves in a container.

Once the lamb shanks are finished with their first stage of cooking. Remove them from the pot.

Cut some of the meat off of the lamb shanks. The goal is to place the shanks and meat evenly at the bottom of a clean pot to make a nice even layer to place the rolled grape leaves. You can use the same pot where you boiled the shanks, just be sure to clean it before this next step. I usually just wipe it clean. 
This photo demonstrates the lamb shanks and meat in an even layer at the bottom of the pot.
Ready to add the grape leaves.
Take the rolled grape leaves and place them as evenly as possible in the pot on top of the lamb and lamb shanks. Make sure to place the rolled grape leaves down on the point of the leaf so they will not come unrolled while cooking.

The result is a beautiful pot full of grape leaves ready to cook! Add water to the pot until the grape leaves are completely covered. Place the pot on the stove top until bubbly. Simmer on medium to medium low for 2.5-3 hours. While cooking, place small plates (instead of a pot lid) directly on the grape leaves. This keeps them under the water, allows them to breathe and cook perfectly. The grape leaves must remain covered with water while cooking. I use a tea kettle on a separate burner to boil water on the stove top. and add this to the grape leaves pot as needed.
Once the grape leaves are finished cooking turn off the stove (approximately 2.5 – 3 hours). Pour fresh lemon juice over the entire pot. Use a liberal amount of lemon juice- at least one half cup or one cup if cooking in a large pot. When the grape leaves are finished cooking, tender, delicious, easy to cut them with a fork, turn off the burner and pour the lemon juice over the top of the grape leaves.

To serve, slice lemons and wash and cut green onions. Grape leaves taste great with a sqeeze of lemon juice and a green onion.

Ready to serve. I’ve removed everything from the pot and placed the lamb in the center of the serving dish and the grape leaves around. It makes for a “wow” presentation. Save the juices from the pot. My husband likes to pour these over his grape leaves. You can also save the pot juices for later (leftovers) in the fridge and the oils will harden, so you can easily scrape them off the top.
Grape leaves are also served with mint leaves. I’ve placed them in a small vase, so they double as decoration and as a garnish.
I am so happy with the way my grape leaves turned out. They are so amazing. Thank you, to my dear Mother-in-Love, Mary for giving me this wonderful gift. I’m so thankful to carry on this tradition with my family for years to come. Love, El Momma

THE BEST HUMMUS EVER! El Momma’s Classic Lebanese hummus recipe

El Momma’s Best Hummus Ever

Traditional Lebanese Hummus

Ingredients

  • 2 (15-oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained (save the juice from the can for later)
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • [1] tsp salt 
  • [1/2] cup fresh lemon juice
  • [1/2] tsp Citric acid (optional)
  • [1] cup tahini paste
  • 4 TB. extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Rinse, drain and remove some of the skins of the chickpeas by boiling them in water for 10 minutes. See video here for how to reduce your amount of chickpea skin in a couple of easy steps!

In a food processor fitted with a chopping blade, blend chickpeas, garlic, salt, lemon juice, (and optional citric acid), tahini and extra virgin olive oil for 2 minutes or until smooth. 

If not creamy enough, you can add some of the reserved juice from the chick pea can. Blend for 1 minute or until creamy and well combined.

I know how annoying it can be, when you just want a recipe and the blogger goes on and on….so, I was super nice and gave you the recipe at the top.

Now, for the video…..where I talk a lot. And, Baby Jimmie screams.

Easy Steps : How To Make the Best Hummus Ever!

Best Ever ! Gluten Free Sausage Balls using only 3 Ingredients.

So good. No one will ever guess they are gluten free. 

 *Update! December 25, 2020

Sub gluten free pancake mix for a perfect sweet and savory breakfast! Follow the recipe exactly as listed below, except use pancake mix instead of biscuit mix. (I used krusteaz gluten free pancake mix today and they were the perfect Christmas morning breakfast.) One of the Els ate 9 of them before we stopped him! Lol

El Momma’s Gluten Free Sausage Balls

By El Momma, Rebekah Maddux El-Hakam

Prep time: 15 minutes 

Cook time: 20 minutes 

Makes: approximately 2 dozen sausage balls

Several years ago, my momma called me and asked if I could bring her famous sausage balls to our family thanksgiving lunch. I decided to make these and didn’t tell anyone they were gluten free. They were a huge hit. And, less tummies were aching after this experiment. Truthfully, these are so good. I would never make them any other way. We do have a very large family and I make a double batch. Remember, the ratio is 1-1-1. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup grated cheese blend 
  • 1 cup baking mix (suggest Gluten Free Bisquick)
  • 1 lb of ground pork sausage

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 °F. Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper.

Slowly add in the bisquick with 1 lb of sausage in a standing mixing bowl. Mix until combined (about 30 seconds)

 

*TIP You may want to have the shield on your mixer to start, as it can be a little messy when first mixing in the bisquick. Once the bisquick and sausage are blended, add half of the cheese, mix for a few seconds, followed by the remaining cheese. Mix until well combined. 

We like this balance of meat, cheese and bread. However, you could always add more cheese! I am sure your family/guests would not complain! 

Next, use a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon to form the balls. These will be heaping scoops measuring about 2 tablespoons in all.

 Form into balls as you scoop and place on the prepared baking sheets, leaving space in between the balls. I can safely fit 15 balls on each baking sheet. 

 

Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown. When using parchment paper, I do not move the sausage balls during baking. I will check them at 18 minutes and leave for an additional 2 minutes, if needed. 

 

We serve them with mustard, jam, or maple syrup. Your family will love them! 

 

El Momma’s Gluten Free Sausage Balls

The Best Gluten Free Sausage Balls ever! only three ingredients

Lebanese Grape Leaves

My most popular blogpost (by far) is my mother-in-law’s recipe for lebanese grape leaves. It’s from 2009 and it includes step by step instructions on what to buy and how to make grape leaves. She taught me everything she learned from her mother-in-law (who was from Lebanon). It’s a recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation. I am honored to carry on the family tradition. 
Over the past 6 years, I’ve practiced this recipe a lot: holidays, family gatherings, birthdays, and just random times when I needed comfort food. I’ve learned tricks that speed up the rolling process and I’ve even cooked grape leaves in a pressure cooker. I stumbled upon the freezing method when I rolled too many one time and needed additional lamb shanks for another pot. I ended up freezing the extra rolled uncooked grape leaves and cooking them on another day. I found this method to work really well. The pot takes a little longer to start simmering, but the cooking time after that, is the same. 
To celebrate my father-in-law’s 70th birthday, I wanted to make grape leaves for the whole family: 10 adults and many children. I started 3 weeks before and made the grape leaves in batches of 2 lbs of ground lamb. That’s a little less than 2 jars at a time. I made 3 batches and I would buy the ground lamb each time before I wanted to roll. I rolled 5 jars total and that ended up being more than enough for all of us. 
Basically, I roll the grape leaves and store them in freezer bags or Tupperware in the freezer. When I am ready to cook them, I start with the lamb shanks first, and then dump the frozen grape leaves in the clean pots with the lamb shanks at the bottom. Add water to the pot and proceed with bringing the water to a simmer and covering the top with plates to hold the rolled grape leaves under the water. I follow the rest of the instructions. It works so well and makes cooking the day of, a total snap! 

El Momma ready to enjoy delicious grape leaves.

Click the link to access the original recipe and blogpost from 2009: http://elmomma.blogspot.com/2009/09/how-to-make-lebanese-grape-leaves.html?m=1