New York Travel Diary- Part 1

It’s been a few weeks since I got back from my 3 day trip to New York City and I wanted to share it while it’s still fresh in my mind!

New York holds a special place in my heart. It’s where my best friend, Fatima, lives. It’s also the place where I first started talking to my husband via email, as we started introducing ourselves for the purpose of marriage. It isn’t exactly a romantic fairytale story but I still remember how I felt when I first heard for him!

This was my first trip with baby, and what a trip it was! It was her first trip, first plane ride, first time out of the country and away from her dad! Lots of firsts. My mom came with us so it was a girls trip of mothers and daughters, a trip I will never forget.

I has gone to New York once before when Fatima has first moved there, and the difference between this trip and that one was day and night! Travelling with a toddler obviously changed the whole way I planned the trip. Luckily, I had done most of the touristy things last time (Empire State Building, ferry to see Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Central Park, etc) and I wanted a different trip this time. My focus this time was food and I had a long list of places I wanted to try!

This post ended up being super long, so I split it up into two. Part One will cover Days 1 and 2, and Part Two will cover Day 3 and 4, which was actually a half day. Let’s get started!

DAY 1

So our day started bright and early with an 8AM flight. If I had to do the trip again, I wouldn’t have booked such an early flight! I don’t know what exactly I was thinking, but I seem to have forgotten that you have to get to the airport 3 hours before! And combine that with a toddler that doesn’t sleep well and a mommy who is often tired, and it was kind of a disaster…

But anyway! We arrived in the city around 10AM and had planned to have brunch at Fatima’s house, before setting off for Brooklyn.

I had never been to Brooklyn before, and I have to say, it was the highlight of my trip!

I loved how chill and laid back it was; there weren’t hoardes of people everywhere like there were in Manhattan. I mostly went for the views of Manhattan across the river, and the views were beautiful.

First, we stopped at the iconic spot in Dumbo, the view of the bridge between the two brick buildings. If you’ve seen Gossip Girl, you’ll definitely recognize this view! There were a ton of people here taking pictures and there were actually cars trying to drive on the same road!

The road we were standing on was actually cobblestone, and added an old world charm to the place. Not easy to navigate a stroller on, but definitely very whimsical.

After that we made our way to Brooklyn Bridge Park. I had heard that the views were unparalleled and they truly were beautiful. The skyline was magnificent, as the buildings glistened from the river’s reflection, framed by a bridge on each side.

There were a cute carousel in the park and we gave Emaan a ride on it. She wasn’t that impressed, which was funny because we kept giggling and had more fun than her.

After that we headed to Smorgasburg, which is an outdoor food festival. I had been payched about this for weeks but it was probably the most underwhelming experience of the trip. It was hard because most of the stuff had pork or neat products in it, and there wasn’t that many veggie friendly options. They didn’t even have many ice cream or dessert places which was disappointing. But we hung out for a bit, ate a few things and then took some pictures by the beach in the park where the festival is held.

After the Park, we wandered around Brooklyn, or more specifically Williamsburg, for a bit. We checked out Artists and Fleas which was a handmade flea market with a mix of eclectic products.

For dinner I had planned on going to a pizza place but it was a bit of a drive and we were all tired. So my friend and her husband took us to a Pakistani BBQ restaurant called BK Jani. It was a hole in the wall type of place but the food was good! Very spicy though. The best part was that they had funny handwritten reviews taped up all over the restaurant, some of which were in mixed English and Urdu.

After dinner, we were all tired so we headed back to our hotel, but not before seeing the sun set over the concrete jungle as we drove back into the city.

DAY 2

Our second day was a Manhattan day. Since I had spent my whole trip in Manhattan last time, I wanted to do things I hadn’t done before.

So we started our day at the High Line. The High Line is an old elevated railroad track in the meatpacking district of the city that was transformed into a park. It’s a beautiful path with flowers and shrubbery on both sides, while framed with both old and new architecture.

This was another of my favourite parts of the trip. It was so nice just to stroll along the path, all while admiring the buildings, elevated above the bustling crowds on the streets. The weather was nice, and we found a little stream of water for Emaan to cool off in, which she loved!

By the time we were finished with the park, it was time for lunch. I had planned on going to Joe’s Pizza, a famous casual slice pizzeria, which I had heard so much about. Luckily it was worth the hype!

The line was long but it moved fast. My only mistake was that I ordered the fresh mozzarella slice instead of the regular cheese one. I had a bite of my mom’s and decided that I would get another slice of the regular cheese one for Emaan, who was asleep at that time.

And I’m so glad I did! At a glance, it looked like a regular cheese slice, except it was HUGE. But when I took a bite, I discovered that the crust was crispy but still chewy. It had great flavour. And so did the sauce; it was rich and tangy, without being too overpowering. But the real star of the show was the cheese of course. Stringy and delicious, it wasn’t oily or greasy. A I’m writing this, I’m dreaming about another slice!

We sat in a cute little park right outside of the restaurant on benches underneath trees. The weather was lovely with a perfect breeze and we sat there and rested our sore feet while my baby slept.

After that, we walked to a cute soft serve ice cream shop I has been dying to try: Big Gay Ice Cream. I got the Salty Pimp, which was vanilla ice cream with sea salt and dulce de leche. It was just the perfect remedy for the hot weather and the overtired baby!

After that it was to SoHo for shopping! I had wanted to spend more time in SoHo exploring shops that I hadn’t seen before, but we stuck to the same ones I’ve been to before. We also tried a pop-up shop by Zara but I didn’t find much because the sizes were too small.

The reason I had planned for us to go to SoHo was because one of the bakeries I was dying to try: Laduree. I have been wanting to go to the gorgeous and infamous French patisserie for years, and have longed to go.

Like Smorgasburg, Laduree was a disappointment. Maybe because we were all tired from the walking we had done. The prices were outrageous, but the little outdoor garden was really pretty.

We didn’t sit long so I got my macarons to go. I tried a few in the store while we waited for my mom to drink her cup of afternoon chai and I have to say, they were nothing special. Maybe if I had had them first before any other macaron? But I wasn’t too impressed, even when I came home and ate through the tiny box I got to go. Don’t get me wrong, they were delicious! But hyped up too much.

We were going to go to Eataly for dinner but were all so tired that we got dropped off at our hotel and decided to order in. We weren’t done trying New York pizza and I literally picked a place close to to our hotel to order from. It was SO good! And the funny thing was I didn’t read about it on any list or hear about it anywhere. It was probably another hole in the wall type of place, for all I know but their pizza was a party in my mouth. It was called Amadeus Pizza and we got the garlic shrimp pizza. I think I even enjoyed it more than Joe’s (shocking!).

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of this mouth-watering pizza, even a grainy hotel one because I was just too hungry and tired to take any pictures!

And that’s it for Part 1! Stay tuned for Part 2, which will cover Downton Abbey, shopping, Eataly, and lots of bakeries. Till then!

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

 

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Recipe: Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chips

Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chips

Hello friends, and Ramadan Mubarak to all those who are observing! This is my first time fasting as a new mom, and I have to say, it’s definitely a lot different than any other year! But then again, most things are.

For one thing, waking up for suhoor or the morning meal is only one of the many times I wake up during the night. In previous years, this is the thing I struggled with the most. Waking up during the middle of the night to eat and then trying to go back to sleep was always so hard. I hated losing my precious sleep!

Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chips

But now that I wake up multiple times a night, waking up to eat and going back to sleep is no big deal! It’s funny that the thing I was scared about and dreading the most is the thing that is the easiest. The first day when I woke up in the morning, I didn’t feel extra tired or groggy like I remember feeling before. It’s kind of amazing what your body will adapt to when it has no choice.

Not only has my suhoor pattern changed, but so has iftar! Before, I used to have all day to prepare iftar for my family. I would spend hours poring over recipes on Pinterest, making lists of everything I was craving, and then go all out when it was time to actually make the meal. With a toddler now, I don’t have time for any of that! I’ve stuck to making one dish, maybe two, and that’s it. My daughter keeps me on my toes the whole day so I don’t have the luxury of spending time thinking about food all day, which is probably for the best.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Since I don’t have all day to make iftar, I definitely don’t have time to sit and enjoy my meal! My daughter’s bedtime coincides with sunset these days, and I’ve pushed it back so that I eat quickly and then I have to run to put her to bed. Gone are the days of lingering over my meal, which often led to overeating and weight gain. So for that not happening this year, I am grateful! But I still miss enjoying the taste of my food after a long day of fasting.

In previous years, dessert was definitely on the menu! Whether it was brownies, cookies, or ice cream, I always made something sweet to be enjoyed after iftar, but of course, this year, finding time to bake is tricky. But my sweet tooth still calls to me after iftar, and having a plate of these Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chips would be a welcome sight after a long fast.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made these cookies before Ramadan and have still not forgotten them! They are the perfect marriage between a peanut butter cookie and a chewy chocolate chip cookie, which means they have the best of both worlds. These cookies are more chocolate chip cookie with peanut butter, rather than the other way around. The peanut butter isn’t overpowering, but instead is more of a hint.

They are thick, puffy, and chewy- all things a good chocolate chip cookie should be, except with the burst of peanut butter. Let’s check out the recipe. Continue reading →

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Recipe: Chicken Malai Tikka

Chicken Malai Tikka

Hey everyone! I’ve got something a little different for you all today: a savoury recipe. It’s been awhile since I’ve shared a savoury recipe with you all, but this chicken malai tikka is amazing. When posting recipes on the blog, I stick to my favourite food group (dessert), but believe me that’s not all I eat!

I shared this recipe on my Instagram stories the other day and I received so many requests for the recipe! I got way more requests than my sweet recipes, that’s for sure. People I haven’t spoken to years reached out to me and wanted the recipe for this succulent chicken barbecue item.

Confession time: I use a lot of Shan masalas. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, they’re packaged dry mixes of herbs and spices with instructions and a list of ingredients on the back. You can get premade biryani masala to korma to kabobs and everything in between. I’m not the best at Pakistani cooking, and Shan masalas take the guesswork out of it for me.

But lately I’ve been sick of making and eating the same few things. Shan masalas tend to have the same taste, an I’ve been trying to use my own blend of spices. It’s a hit and miss though.

When I stumbled on this recipe for Chicken Malai Tikka, I knew I wanted to make it right away. Succulent, juicy chicken that melts in your mouth? Yes, please! I’ve made the recipe using Shan masalas, but don’t remember being too impressed. So I was excited to try this recipe.

Malai is a creamy and rich ingredient, but the word can be used to describe any food that basically melts in your mouth like butter. And that’s exactly what this chicken does. There’s actually no butter in the recipe, except for a bit that you can brush on top at the end, if you want. The creamy texture of the marinade and the juiciness of the chicken is thanks to a mixture of yogurt and heavy or whipping cream. Let’s take a look at the recipe!

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Favourite Makeup Products

Favourite Makeup Products

Today we’re talking makeup! I know this is a different kind of post from the one I usually write, but I wanted to try something new.

I am by no means a makeup artist or even an expert. But it is something I enjoy doing, and even learning more about. It’s definitely one of my guilty pleasures!

I’m definitely not adventures when it comes to my makeup; when I like something, I keep using it and have a hard time trying new things.

After a recent Sephora haul, I realised I have a few Staples that I am always restocking. I love them so much and use them so frequently that they need replenishing quite often. I figuted I’d share them with you. 🙂

Make Up For Ever Pro Finish Powder Foundation in 127 Golden Sand

Before, I used to only use this on top of my Make Up For Ever foundation. But then I started wearing it by itself and I fell in love!

While you can use this as a setting powder on top of your foundation (I still do, when I do wear foundation), it works great as a base on its own. I love how buildable the formula is; if you want light coverage, you can do that. But if you want more coverage, simply apply more product for a more finished look.

I use this a lot for my everyday makeup look, like for when I have to run out to the grocery store or when I want a light makeup look without the heaviness of foundation. I have combination oily skin and this works great to give me that flawless, smooth finish.

While the name of the product is powder foundation, it still isn’t as flawless as liquid foundation. It’s a very natural look, so if you’re looking for heavy coverage, this won’t give you that. But it’s perfect for everyday.

Nars Blush in Orgasm

This is a cult favourite, and for good reason! I had heard about this blush for years before I finally tried it. And I’m so glad I did!

What I love about this blush is how pigmented it is. A little goes a long way, and you don’t have to be standing there for half an hour trying to get the product on. A few swishes of your blush brush and you are good to go!

Of course we have to talk about the colour itself. It’s such a favourite among makeup junkies, and for good reason. It looks good on so many different skin colours! It’s rosey and pinky, without being garish. It’s got s lovely shine that makes the apples of your cheeks sparkle subtly, so that you look like you are glowing.

I recently bought the colour SIN on a recommendation from a friend and it has the same formula, without the sparkle. It has more of a purple undertone but also looks nice on brown skin tones.

I cannot recommend this enough. It’s by far my favourite blush of all time!

Huda Beauty Liquid Matte Lipstick in Gossip Girl

This is definitely my favourite matte liquid lipstick. So many others have claimed to not rub off, but this is the first that I’ve come across that actually doesn’t rub off!

As a mom, I’m always kissing my daughter and I hated getting lipstick on her cute little cheeks. But when I started wearing Huda Beauty’s product, I fell in love with the way it didn’t rub off. It’s actually a matte lipstick that stays on for hours.

Gossip Girl is my current favourite, although I also have Trophy Wife and Heartbreaker. It’s a perfect pink shade that is girly and flirty. I can’t get enough of it!

Benefit They’re Real Mascara in Black

I’ve only ever worn fake eyelashes a few times in my life, and each time was by a professional make you artist. They weren’t very comfortable but the effect was of course amazing!

This is my substitute. If you are obsessed with long eyelashes, then this is the mascara for you! The formula is amazing and it lengthens your lashes to crazy lengths.

What I love about this product is that a little goes a long way. So if you’re looking for a more subtle look, you can apply it sparingly for a pretty effect. Apple a little bit more and your lashes will look outrageous.

Make Up For Ever Liquid Liner in Black

This liner is a favourite after much research. I had been on the hunt for a BLACK liquid eyeliner with a dark formula that wouldn’t fade quickly. I tried Stila, Benefit’s Push Up Liner, and Kat Von D’s Tattoo Liner. None were as black as I wanted and none had that dramatic effect that I wanted in my liquid liner.

This one did.

I love the pigmentation of the black in this formula. It isn’t weak and nor does it fade away. It stays strong and dark for hours on end. The applicator is a sponge tip and is pointed, which makes it perfect to create the perfect wing or cat eye.

It dries quickly so there’s no waiting for the liquid to settle before you can apply mascara or curl your lashes. It has a dramatic effect and is amazing.

These aren’t my only favourite makeup products, but they are definitely the ones I use most frequently. As a new mom, I’m often pressed for time these days and have to do my makeup in a hurry. What I love about all of these products is how quickly I can apply them. They are perfect for my current quick and short makeup routine, since their quality is amazing.

So if you’re looking for some new makeup products, do check out some of the ones I’ve recommended above!

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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Recipe: Best Chocolate Bundt Cake with Chocolate Sauce

Best Chocolate Bundt Cake

I’ve been making this chocolate bundt cake for almost 2 years now. Apologies in advance for not sharing the recipe!

Like my favourite cookie of all time, the chocolate chip cookie, the chocolate bundt cake is a similarly elusive recipe. Many bloggers claim to have the best chocolate bundt cake recipe out there, and I have to admit, I’ve tried many of them. I was on the hunt for a chocolate cake of my dreams, one that was rich and moist and decadent, without all the extra work and fancy ingredients.

I grew up on a healthy diet of Betty Crocker box mix cakes. That’s what my mom used to make for us every few weeks and my brothers and I would gobble it up. The chocolate cake was moist and fudgy. It came together in minutes, because all you needed was oil, eggs, and water or milk. When I started baking, I started with cake mixes because they were so easy. There was no way to mess them up.

Best Chocolate Bundt Cake

I tried lots of recipes online before finally finding this one. Most chocolate cake recipes that I’ve tried call for hot coffee or espresso to amp up the chocolate flavour, or at least boiling water. But many of those cakes tasted flat and uninteresting. Some were easy in their process, but were dry and didn’t have enough chocolate flavour. This cake is anything but. Deliciously moist, fudgy in flavour, this chocolate bundt cake is a winner!

When I finally stumbled upon this recipe, it seemed too good to be true. It comes together in one bowl, without a mixer, and does have eggs or milk or any other dairy products. It’s vegan! I’m not vegan but l love the flavour this cake has even without the dairy products. It’s perfectly soft and bakes a beautiful crumb.

Best Chocolate Bundt Cake

But before I get too carried away with the chocolate bundt cake, we need to talk about the chocolate sauce. You CANNOT make this cake without the sauce. It would be a crime. It’s honestly the best part of the cake, and takes the recipe from good to amazing. The sauce is rich and velvety, everything a good chocolate sauce should be. I always make extra, because my husband always wants extra sauce with his cake. It’s more like he has cake with his sauce, instead of the other way around.

This chocolate bundt cake is my new version of the classic Betty Crocker cake mix. It’s so easy and simple to make! What I love is that there are no fancy ingredients or even extra steps. This is your lazy-girl cake, perfect for a rainy afternoon when you want something easy and chocolatey, without having to do extra work. Let’s get to the recipe!

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