• Mai

words on the cookies: Eid in Arabic means Holiday, and Hub means love, everything else was too long to stamp lol

A sugar cookie is such a simple pleasure. They’re so buttery, sweet and melt in your mouth. The same reasons my kids say i ruined this sugar cookie recipe. Don't listen to them i have been adding anise to these cookies since they were old enough to decorate them and every year i hear the same story "mom, here comes the aneeeeese cookies again, why aneeeesssseee!!!. Why, because flavors of anise and citrus are very common in Arab baked goods and treats. Anise seeds are in fact steeped to make a warm cozy tea that's often served in the winter months. That cozy aroma always reminds me of my teta's house in the winter and the image of teta sitting by the stand alone heater with her white shawl over her shoulders and thick socks and slippers. Its my way of incorporating the flavors that are familiar to me growing up to new traditions and ideas. I never grew up with cut out cookies when i was little in Palestine, but we always had an anise or yansoon flavored cookie of sort for the holidays.

This tradition all started when a friend shared with me what she claimed to be the perfect cut out cookie recipe. I was an intimidated baker 15 years ago so i wanted to believe her. she sent me a clipped page out of i think a Parents magazine . And i never looked back again at any sugar cookie recipe. because when you find a recipe for a good one, you hold on tight. Although its a family joke that i add anise seeds to the cookies but we all love it so much and its the cookie Santa is been requesting for years. It even became the cookie of choice for my friend tammy. Tammy and I bake together for the holidays every year and this is the recipe she always requests. I know how to make these cookies with my eyes closed but please don't ask me about any frosting tips, you can see for yourself in the photo above, the lines are barely straight. Wishing you Hub (love), Farah (joy) and Salam (peace) this holiday season and always.

Anise Cut Out Sugar Cookies - No chill cookies


1 cup (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar (original recipe calls for 1.5 cups of sugar, adjust to your taste)

1 egg at room temperature

1.5 tsp Anise extract or vanilla extract

2 and 3/4 cups AP flour

2tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tbls roughly ground anise*

zest of a lemon

what is Anise Seed:

Anise seed is used as a spice, either ground or whole. and often used in baked goods in the Middle East and also enjoyed brewed as tea or a digestive after dinner. The seeds have an aroma of licorice, its sweet and very aromatic


Preheat the over to 350

Mix the sugar and softened butter until pale yellow and fluffy, add egg, zest and extract.

In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients gradually to the wet until combined. Combine the dough into a ball. On a floured surface divide the dough into 2 balls. Don't chill the dough if you are baking it right away. .

Then use a rolling pin to roll each disk out to 1/4- to 1/8-inches thick. .. Don't roll dough too thin if you re decorating the cookies this way they are sturdy and perfect for frosting .. Using a floured cookie cutter cut out your shapes. Re-roll the dough scraps to cut out additional cookies.

position the baking rack in the middle position in your oven.

Bake on silicone baking mat or parchment paper until light brown and cooked about 7-8 minutes. start checking them at 7 minutes. You want to bake your cookies until the edges are set and just barely starting to turn golden. Baking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your cookies.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes then transfer them to a cooling rack to completely cool before decorating them.

Store cookies in an airtight container they will last up to one week.

Recipe Tips:

- i like to grind my spices from whole. So for this recipe i used a coarse ground but if you have anise seeds powder go ahead an use it.

- This dough can be made in advance. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

- To freeze: Form the dough into a ball, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place in an airtight container and freeze 2 to 3 months. Let thaw completely in the fridge before using.

- This roll-out cookie dough recipe is great for making cut-out cookies of all shapes and sizes. They will hold their shape and can easily be customized

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Updated: Dec 31, 2020

Orange Blossom, Seville Marmalade & Cranberry Fresh Relish is a nice addition to your thanksgiving table. It adds a beautiful color and a vibrant fresh flavor that would compliment your roasted meats and creamed veggies. It’s fresh, slightly sweet and tart, it’s delicious.

I started with the recipe my mother in law makes every thanksgiving but Instead of sugar I boosted the sweetness of the sour cranberries with a Seville Orange marmalade that my mom sent me from a local women Co-op in the village of Ein Areek Palestine. Although you can use any sweetener you want, any citrus marmalade, cranberry jam, maple syrup or honey will be great too. I tinted the flavor of this relish with orange blossom water. Orange blossom water is so floral, its distilled with the essence of flowers from orange trees. Specifically, bitter oranges the variety that's used in the marmalade my mom sent. This variety of orange grows in Palestine and in the Levant.

For another twist on this delicious relish try my Cranberry and labaneh Crostini a perfect appetizer during the holidays.

Orange Blossom, Seville Marmalade & Cranberry Fresh Relish


  • 1 orange peeled and diced

  • Zest of the orange

  • 12 Oz fresh cranberries washed

  • 1/2 tsp orange blossom

  • Add 2 tbls of Seville orange marmalade **, you can also add marmalade or maple syrup or honey. Adjust the sweetness to your liking

**Seville oranges are extremely juicy, slightly sweet, tangy and bitter. Flavors that will give any dish savory or sweet a tart, clean and crisp taste. They are ideal for marmalade because of their wonderfully strong orange taste. After a while this orange, which began as sour and bitter, is transformed into a delightfully sweet and tart marmalade, truly unmatched in flavor.


This is the consistency we are looking for.

Grate the zest from the orange and set aside. Cut off any remaining pith from the orange. Cut the orange into chunks.

In a food processor, pulse the cranberries for a few seconds to get them going. Add the orange chunks, orange zest, and pulse until finely chopped. We are looking for a thick mixture not a puree, add the marmalade or the sweetener of choice. Add the orange blossom and pulse to combine.

If it’s not sweet enough to your liking then you can add honey, maple syrup or few tbls of sugar.

This can be assembled up to a few days in advance and enjoyed for a few days after.

For another twist on this delicious relish try my Cranberry and labaneh Crostini a perfect appetizer during the holidays.

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  • Mai

Ah, pumpkin pie. A delicious combination of seasonal fruits yep pumpkins are fruits and creamy sweet and rich persimmons with some fall spices, and milk or cream and today’s family controversial ingredient. Yielding to a custardy, creamy filling with so many notes of fall. And once baked in a buttery pie crust and topped with fresh whipped cream (a must) its then that its officially thanksgiving. But lets go back to the first time i tried pumpkin pie. This bright orange dessert that's cold and has one note didn't appeal to my college self. You see, I grew up in Palestine and there we didn't celebrate thanksgiving, I had pumpkin pie at the age of 19 for the first time.

In fact, one year my pastor Assis Naim at the Anglican Church in Jerusalem once introduced thanksgiving to the church and we all had falafel sandwiches after the service :)

At first, I wondered why are we serving sweet potatoes mash for thanksgiving dinner and then a similar thing for dessert. It seemed so redundant to me, but the whipped cream made perfect sense and i loved that, I knew then that my palette will change to enjoy this dessert. Pass forward many years later of cooking with my mom in law who taught me so many delicious thanksgiving recipes and experimenting with my own flavors and recipes my favorite pumpkin was born. The creamy filling laced with orange zest and warm fall spices like ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and I sometimes add allspice. This year i experimented with adding tahini (sesame paste). The bright orange sweet dessert needed a nutty boost I thought to myself. It will add dimension and another layer of flavor. Well, some of us at home loved it but my kids said: “mom; tahini belongs to shawarma”. But still not positive who ate almost the entire pie!!! While this remains a mystery i will be adding tahini to my pumpkin pie from now on. And the haters can have an apple pie with fresh whipped cream this thanksgiving.


  • 1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin purée not pumpkin pie filling

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 tsps. cinnamon powder

  • 1/2 tsp cardamom

  • Few grates Of fresh nutmeg

  • 1/4 tsp of cardamom

  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger

  • 1/4 cup tahini paste

  • 2 real ripe persimmons (so soft that they fall apart)

  • Zest of one orange

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1 unbaked 9-inch deep dish pie shell store bought or your favorite recipe

  • * 2 pre baked 9-inch shallow pie shells


Preheat the oven to 425°F.

  • In a large bowl Place the pumpkin purée, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices, persimmons pulp, orange zest and whisk until combined.

  • If making 1 (9-inch) deep dish pie: Pour the filling into an unbaked 9-inch deep dish pie shell. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°F and bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. **

  • If making 2 (9-inch) shallow pies: Divide the filling between 2 pre baked 9-inch pie shells.

  • Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°F and bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. ** Let pies cool completely before serving

  • Serve pies with a dollop of cinnamon whipped cream


*Pre bake your shells: To blind bake the pie shells, bake at 425°F until the edges just start to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool before adding the filling.

** if your pie crust starts to brown quickly make sure you cover it loosely with foil

This is your pie and it’s your thanksgiving. Tweak the spices to your liking. If you are not sure about tahini start with 1-2 tbls and go from there. If you don’t like it at all then omit it and the pie will still be so delicious and won’t affect the ratio of the other ingredients.


Tahini, or sesame seed paste, is a staple of Arab, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean cooking. It’s perhaps most known for its essential role in hummus and mutabal. But the use is far beyond.

The two commonly found types of persimmons: are the hachiya and fuyu persimmons, which originated in Asia and are now grown in the U.S. and elsewhere. Fuyu persimmons are sweet, and can be eaten while still a little firm. Making them perfect for salads and eaten raw.

The hachiya persimmon will be sweet only when it’s very ripe or even overripe that it falls apart. Making them a perfect addition to baked goods. If you’ve ever had an unripe persimmon, the experience is memorable. It will numb your tongue lol so wait for it to completely ripen.

How to fast ripen hard Hachiyas:

You often fid the Hachiyas firm at the market. You can hurry the softening process by keeping them in a paper bag at room temperature for a few days.


Persimmons taste like no other fruit. They have a silky, almost a slippery texture and taste kind of like the fabulous fruity love child of a mango and a roasted sweet pepper, with some cinnamon in the background. They are rich and tangy and sweet, all at the same time.

Who ate the rest of the Tahini, PPP!!! will remain a mystery

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