Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Coconut Milk Caramel

Some of you may recall my history with candy-making is...not great.

You may recall the "fudge fiasco" of 2011, or the apple cider caramels I made for mishloach manos one Purim a couple years back that took all day and came out so awful I didn't even post about them.

Well, ever since those awful experiences, I've pretty much avoided any kind of candy recipes.  Cooking sugar on the stove has just been a major no-no for me.  I've made a few simple syrups, but I did so begrudgingly and with great trepidation.

I've even seen these seemingly simple microwave caramel recipes floating around, but I've been too scared to attempt them.

But then a few days ago, I saw something new.  It was a recipe for caramel sauce made with coconut milk, honey, and sea salt.  Nothing else.  I had all the ingredients on hand and a free day coming up.

I went for it.

And I'm not sorry, either.

I had intended to cook this longer so that it would become a candy, as the recipe implies you can do, but after a little over 20 minutes, I took it off the stove and poured it into my prepared pan, lined with wax paper (should have buttered it first) thinking I'd hit the soft-ball stage.  I guess I should have left it a few minutes longer, because the result is more like a thick sauce.

Don't get me wrong, it's delicious, and I'll still probably just devour it right off the spoon.  This recipe comes out with an almost buttery taste, which is amazing, since there's no butter.

3 ingredients.  No dairy.  No added fats.  Delicious results.

Now tell me you aren't tempted to go buy some coconut milk and try this for yourself.  Me?  I'll definitely be trying again.

The recipe can be found at Comfy Belly.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Apple Meringue Pie

The family and I were invited out for Shabbos lunch this week and I offered to bring dessert just as I was perusing Tastespotting.com and "spotted" a recipe for Apple Meringue Pie.  What a perfect opportunity to try my hand at meringue!



And why didn't I try sooner?

It's so incredibly easy!

This recipe is delicious and PERFECT JUST AS IT IS! (adapted from Dine & Dash)

Note the stiff peak. :)

Apple Meringue Pie

  • ~4 apples, 3 diced and 1 sliced thin
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • juice of 1 lemon (or just eyeball some lemon juice.  Don't gotta be too scientific)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 4 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 graham cracker pie crust
  1. Bring water and 1/2 C sugar to a boil in a small pan over medium-high heat.  Add in diced apples, lemon juice, and cinnamon.  Let cook for about 10 minutes.
  2. Beat egg whites and 4 Tbsp sugar on high with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.  Add in vanilla and beat until vanilla is incorporated.
  3. line the bottom of the pie crust with the sliced apple, top with the diced apple filling, then spread meringue on top.
  4. Bake at 325 degrees F for about 18 mins.
  5. Cool before serving.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sesame Tofu

I'm trying to get in a habit of posting here more regularly, which is probably a bad idea with the end of the semester rapidly approaching.  I really don't cook much these days, and when I do it's fairly boring.  I did make cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving that came out pretty delicious, but it's not post-worthy and I didn't get any pictures. (Recipe here.)

We've been living off of a lot of Shabbos leftovers, basic pasta dinners, tuna, and eggs lately.  It's not that I don't enjoy those dinners from time to time.  It's good to have a break.  But after a bit, it just leaves me feeling kinda "meh" about life.  So every now and then, I get these flashes of inspiration and wreck my kitchen to create a dinner that brings a little spirit back to the table.

Which brings us to Tuesday.  On Tuesday, I stood around wondering what we'd eat for dinner when I remembered two things:

  1. I had a package of tofu in the fridge
  2. I had stir-fry veggies in the freezer
  3. I had a recipe for "fake-out take-out" sesame chicken
  4. I can't count.
So I got to work (not on the math part).  Here's the result:


Note: In the following recipe, there are a few optional ingredients at the end.  This is because I added them all willy-nilly.  The sauce did come out very tasty this way, but you may choose to stick to the original recipe from Iowa Girl Eats.  If you look at her recipe, you'll also notice several technical differences.  That was because I only looked at the ingredients and didn't pay attention to her instructions.  I do think the result was pretty awesome, though.

Sesame Tofu

Ingredients:
  • 1 package of extra-firm tofu, cubed
  • Steamed veggies/broccoli/green beans/whatever you want with it.
  • Rice, cooked according to package directions
  • cornstarch
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp oil for frying
  • 1/2 Cup honey
  • 4 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp apricot jam (optional)
  • 1 tsp red wine (optional)
Instructions:
  1. Mix cornstarch with salt and pepper to taste
  2. Dip tofu in beaten egg, then roll in cornstarch
  3. Fry in oil until crunchy, then dispose of oil.
  4. Mix honey, soy sauce, sesame seeds, garlic(, jam, vinegar, ginger and red wine)
  5. Pour sauce into pan with tofu and simmer, mixing occasionally, until the sauce is reduced by half
  6. Put rice and veggies on a plate and top with tofu and sauce.
  7. Om-nom!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Impulse Cookies: Gingersnap Edition



This is going to have to be a quickie post, because I have to go to bed.

You see, our upstairs neighbor is in the habit of blasting his music at odd hours on Sunday mornings

Today he was blasting it around 4:30.

I was not amused.

Tomorrow I have a long day, and as you can imagine, I'm tired.

So this will be quick.



Cookies.

Gingersnaps.

Made them on pure impulse (and some other ingredients).

Recipe below.



Gingersnap Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Cup all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • .5 tsp salt
  • .5 tsp pepper
  • 4 Tbsp butter/margarine
  • 7 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/3 Cup sugar
  • 1/3 Cup Splenda (or other bakeable sugar substitute)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 Cup molasses
  • 1 Large egg
  • Extra sugar for rolling
Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients (all except the sugar) in a bowl (or in a tupperware container, and shake)
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, butter, and oil until fully combined.
  4. Mix in the vanilla, molasses, and the egg.
  5. Add in the dry ingredients and mix until all of the flour is combined.
  6. Now you can do one of the following:
    1. Either you can form this into logs and freeze it until firm and sliceable OR
    2. Place the dough in the fridge until slightly firm, form 1-2 Tbsp sized balls, roll in sugar, flatten, and place on baking sheet.
  7. Bake for about 10-14 minutes, until they are puffy and cracked on top.
  8. Let them sit for 5 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack. 
Now tell yourself they're healthy, and eat them all.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Asian Style Italian Wedding Soup: or Asian Chicken Meatballs


Well hello, there!  I hope you all enjoyed your month of Jewish Holidays.  Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and then Sukkos, and now we're all kind of sick of eating, right?

Nah.  Never.

But all the same, this Shabbos called for lighter fare and less time in the kitchen, especially since I've had a virus for the past week.  So I decided to keep it REALLY simple and just make a pot of classic chicken soup for dinner.

But then, you know me.  I can't just leave it at that.  I had to do SOMETHING interesting with it.

While walking through the grocery store contemplating what I'd make, I found myself irked by the price of a chicken these days.  $14?  For a chicken?  That's max 2 meals for us.  But $10 for a 5lb package of frozen ground chicken?  That's a lot more meals.  Bang for your buck, ya know?  So I started formulating ideas.

What I landed on was making wontons for the soup.  That idea lasted until I started trying to actually MAKE the wontons about an hour before shabbos and realized that maybe I should have given myself more time.  I made 6 wontons (and they rocked, by the way), then I gave up and just made the rest of the filling into meatballs (which also rocked).  So instead of wonton soup, I kind of ended up with an Asian style Italian wedding soup.  And I bet these meatballs would be great if you baked them in the oven, too.  Maybe served them with some rice and a sweet and sour sauce?  Yum.



Asian Chicken Meatballs (for soup, or not)
(note: since I measured nothing for this recipe, I'm giving approximations of how much I used.  But use your own taste and judgement.  I used a lot of scallion and ginger and I think the resulting taste was amazing.  You might prefer it with less.  Do your thing.)

Ingredients:

  • ~ 1lb ground chicken
  • 1-2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 8oz package mushrooms, chopped
  • 1-2 inch cube ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar (I actually think sesame oil would be better, but I was working with what I had on hand)
  • 1 tsp Sriracha sauce
  • 1-2 eggs (use your judgment.  I tried one egg but it didn't seem to cover enough of the mixture, so I added a second)
  • 1/2 C - 1 C bread crumbs (just add a little at a time until the mixture becomes a manageable texture)
  • Chicken broth for cooking (should be enough to cover all the meatballs)
Instructions:
  1. Mix all ingredients (except for broth) in a bowl until combined.
  2. If you want to make wontons, place a small amount of filling into the center of the wonton.  Moisten the edges with a wet finger and fold one half over the other, creating a triangle.  Push out as much air as possible while sealing.  Fold in the 3 corners of the triangle and seal them.  Repeat until filling is gone or you give up and decide to make meatballs.
  3. Bring chicken broth to a boil and then lower to a simmer.
  4. If making wontons, add to simmering broth, cover the pot, and let simmer until fully cooked (I just did an hour.  Came out fine).  If making meatballs, form meatballs and drop gently into the simmering broth.  Cover and cook for about an hour.
  5. Serve in broth or in a pot of chunky chicken soup.  Yum yum.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Rosh Hashana Reflections and Honey-Nut Cake

Rosh Hashana has come and gone, and Yom Kippur is coming fast. How did all this time just fly by me?

Two years ago, I used this time to work on myself, pray as hard as I could, take on resolutions to do better with everything, in the hopes that G-d would see and finally let me have a baby. It must have worked, because almost exactly one year later, I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl.

I had hoped to spend that Rosh Hashana thanking Hashem for this amazing blessing, but when the time came, I was just such a mess, so exhausted, and so overwhelmed, I barely noticed the holidays pass by.

And then we get to this year. I am exceedingly grateful for my daughter and all the amazing gifts I've been given, but as Rosh Hashana approached, I was yet again too busy to properly prepare myself. I still have almost a week until Yom Kippur, and my goal is to use them as best I can. If any of you have suggestions, please let me know. How DOES a wife, mother, student, intern, etc., make time to introspect and do proper teshuva leading up to the Yamim Noraim? At minimum, I want to be better prepared for next year.

With all that said, I would like to wish all of you a G'mar Chasima Tova, a sweet new year, and all the blessings and joy you can handle. :)

Now I know it's too late for Rosh Hashana, but I would like to share the cake recipe I made for yom tov this year.

My original plan had been to keep everything as simple as possible, which meant using a cake mix and a can of icing. Unfortunately, I discovered too late that I had no cake mix! (For shame!) So now I was stuck in a tight spot. I could go without any dessert for yom tov (unthinkable!), or I could make something from scratch. I flipped through my cookbooks looking for a one-bowl cake with ingredients I had on hand. I ended up back at my old staple: Vanilla cake!

As I hunted through my cabinets for the ingredients, it dawned on me that I had no vanilla extract. I'd used it all up on Friday when I'd made my most recent batch of challah. (Gulp!) What to do?!

I had to think fast. It was getting late and we were facing several days with NO CAKE! I got the shakes just thinking about it. So I thought, "Okay! I have almond extract. I'll use that! And look! Honey! How festive!" So I made some tweaks to my go-to recipe, and here's what I came up with:



Honey-Nut Cake


  • 3/4 C oil
  • 2 C sugar
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 C honey
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 C milk/Coffee Rich/soy milk
  • 2 + 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2.5 C flour
  1. Combine flour and baking powder in one bowl
  2. Combine all other ingredients in another bowl
  3. Mix all ingredients together
  4. Pour into pan
  5. Bake at 350 for ~30-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean
Ice it with canned icing like I did, or go homemade if you like.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

K'Siva V'Chasima Tovah!

One year ago, 7:14AM Erev Rosh Hashana I gave birth to an amazing little girl. The past year has been both the best and hardest of my life, and as I look back over it I know I have a lot to be thankful for. As I look forward to my daughter's second year, I know I have a lot to pray for. Happy birthday to my sweet little bundle of joy. May you have many more years full of happiness, health, love, wonder, and all the good in the world. Everyone have a chag sameach and a k'siva v'chasima tovah!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Beach and Butternut Squash Calzones



First of all, I'd like to state the obvious: I love calzones!

They're easy to make and so wonderfully customizable for whatever I've got hanging out in the fridge.  Er...maybe not ANYTHING, but at least the stuff that hasn't developed it's own ecosystem.

Secondly, before I tie that statement to anything relevant (like, say, a recipe) I want to talk about my week.  Not this one.  Last one.

Last week, The Huz took a week off from work so we could have our first real family vacation.  We took a trip to Albany to visit his grandfather (very enjoyable trip, though unfortunately he passed away this morning, BDE), took The Boo to the library for the first time (she had a blast in the baby room!), took a trip to the beach (deets and pics to follow), and spent the weekend out of town with some friends.

All in all, it was a wonderful, though exhausting, week.

Let me focus for a minute on that beach trip.



Ahhh....thanks...

I've been craving the beach for a long, long, long time.  The last time I'd been to one was in Florida a year before I got married.  So that's 6 years.  6 years with no beach.  Do you get me?



I love the beach.  I love to sit by the water, letting the waves lap at my toes.  I love to stare out at the vast, endless ocean and get lost in my thoughts.  I love the breeze in my hair, the air in my lungs, the sand between my toes.  I love it all.



There's something downright magical about water.  I could take this moment to tie it to any number of Jewish mystical concepts, but that's not really my area of expertise.  All I know is that the beach feels right, and it's one of the only places I can really, completely relax.



So I went to the beach with The Huz, leaving The Boo with The 'Rents (like those nicknames?), and just sat on the sand.  I dug in my toes, pulled out a book, and let myself relax for the first time in a long while.  I would have stayed all day, but my husband is not as fond of beaches as I am, and he couldn't handle much more, so we went home.  But I went home feeling happy and refreshed.




The discovery of this particular beach so nearby, small as it is, is a game changer for me.  I now know exactly what I'll be doing every vacation day I can get.



On that fine note, let's change gears.  Back to the grind.  Last night I had to make dinner again.  Can you guess what I made?  That's right.  Calzones.



I want to note that I made some mistakes with this particular recipe.  I should have roasted the butternut squash prior to putting it in the calzone.  Duh.  But I was hungry and wanted to get this done fast, so I just sliced it very thin and prayed.  It was wrong of me, and i apologize to all who were hurt because of my actions.

Shockingly, even without precooking, the calzones came out yummy, just with firmer squash than I would have liked.

Butternut Squash Calzones




  • 1 pizza dough recipe (mine can be found here)
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and sliced or chunked
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • Ricotta or cottage cheese
  • shredded mozzarella
  • olive oil for sauteing
  1. If you want to be sure your butternut squash is cooked, unlike I did, places the slices (or chunks might be better) on a pan and roast until cooked through.
  2. saute the onions and garlic until cooked (about 5-10 minutes)
  3. Mix onions, butternut squash, and cheeses in a large bowl
  4. roll out your pizza dough.  For my recipe, I cut the dough ball in half and rolled each ball into a pizza shape.  Fill one side, and fold over the other, pinching the edges together until sealed all around.
  5. Place calzones on a pizza stone, pizza crisper pan, or a broiling pan (I think that's what I was using...)
  6. Bake at 425 for about 15 minutes or until the outside looks crisp and lightly browned.


A final note about the beach:  It was marvelous.  I loved it.  But can I just say I felt unbelievably creepy sitting there with my dSLR camera shooting pictures of strangers in bathing suits while I was fully dressed?  Also, thanks to MyShtub for the idea of shooting feet.  They really do add a great point of interest.  And no, I didn't know the little girl who's feet can be seen in the 4th beach picture, but they just trotted into my line of site when I was trying to get wave shots, so I went for it.

Cuteness note:  The little girl to whom the feet belonged was trying to dig a ditch to keep seaweed in, and she was singing a little song about it while she was digging and desperately trying to keep the waves from washing the seaweed away.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

You're gonna hate me. I hate myself for this. I made AMAZING stuffed portabella mushrooms on Tuesday, but I was so hungry that I ate them before getting any pictures. :( I know. I'll accept my punishment. But trust me. These were amazing.

Served with roasted veggies=FULL MEAL OF AWESOME!

Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

  • Portabella mushrooms
  • 1 package garlic couscous, cooked (or whatever couscous you want to make is cool, too)
  • Ricotta/cottage cheese
  • Shredded mozzarella
  • Optional: sauteed spinach, sauteed onions, fried crispy onions, Any other awesomes

  1. Wipe mushrooms with a damp paper towel to clean and remove stems.  Rinsing mushrooms waterlogs them. They're little sponges.
  2. Place in a pan, gill side up. (Some people remove the gills, but I love their flavor so I keep them.)
  3. Sprinkle mushrooms with a pinch of salt, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  4. Spread a layer of ricotta/cottage cheese on.  Don't skimp.  If you're going to add any other toppings (onions, spinach, etc) either add them now, or mix them with the couscous.
  5. Pile on some couscous.  Again, don't skimp.  Fill those caps!
  6. Top with shredded cheese and broil until the cheese is nice and brown.  My milchig oven doesn't broil, because it's a convection oven from the 80's (seriously), so I just put it at the highest temperature and kept an eye on it.  Took almost 15 minutes to brown that cheese for me, but that's probably because the oven door popped open and I didn't notice. :(
Eat it up! Yum yum yum!

Note: You can use low-fat cheeses and quinoa to lighten this up.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Twit Twit Twit

Hey guess what!  You can now follow The Bunny Box on Twitter!

I mean, I can't promise it will be too interesting, but I'm likely to post more there than I do here.

I will probably mostly use it to say what I'm cooking and share recipes I've found.

Also, there may be mention of cute babies.

Also, there may be random thoughts.

Also, there may be nothing at all.  I promise you nothing.

In any case, I'm here @BunnyBoxTweets. (Can you believe someone already had TheBunnyBox?)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Baked Spinach Falafel (and other stories)

I know, I know. It's been a while since my last post. I'm supposed to be better about keeping up on it, but I'm not. For what it's worth, I have a lot to talk about today!


My first story is kind of sad and tragic. You see, a few days ago, I decided to try making "Coffee Pops." I'd seen the idea on several other blogs and thought it would be a good way to get my coffee while holding my daughter without worrying about scolding her.

 So I brewed a pot of coffee, mixed it with milk and splenda, and poured it into my bunny Popsicle molds. I had high hopes and I was eager. Perhaps TOO eager. The next morning, I went to remove a popsicle from one of the molds, but it hadn't loosened enough and my dear, sweet bunny pop cracked in half. In honor of the bunny's memory, I wrote a poem.

 
Ode To A Popsicle Stick 
 Little Bunny Fu-Fu 
That's what I might have called you 
But your life was cut too short to have a name. 

 Meant to mold my icy treat 
Your body, frozen, couldn't meet 
The challenge of releasing, when it came. 

 Now tragically in sink you lie 
With melting coffee by your side 
Split in two, and never 'gain to stir. 

 As your 3 siblings stare and wait 
The ending to their icy fate 
I hope that they are stronger than you were.

The happy ending is that I DID eat one of the popsicles this morning, and it was tasty and efficient, but it did lack the simple pleasure of a creamy, warm, slightly sweet cup o'mornin' Joe. {sigh} 

Now to my next topic. I've long been searching for simple, cheap, healthy recipes for shabbos lunches. I've come up with a few simple ideas like fish cakes, a variety of salads (tuna, egg, macaroni, corn, etc). 

 This shabbos, I decided to try out baked falafel. I got this recipe from the interwebs, of course.



They came out of the oven crunchy on the outside and warm, soft, creamy on the inside. I can't yet vouch for how they'll taste tomorrow, but I'm optimistic.

 

Baked Spinach Falafel (Copied from Vegan Yack Attack)

Ingredients:
3 Cups Cooked Chickpeas
2 Cups Baby Spinach, Loosely Packed
1 Cup White Onion, Diced
2 Cloves Garlic
3 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley, Minced
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
2 tsp. Ground Cumin
1 tsp. Ground Coriander
1/4 tsp. Paprika
1/4 tsp. Black Pepper
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 Cup Rolled Oats

Instructions:
  1. Place all ingredients, except for the rolled oats, into a food processor. Pulse the mixture until it is in between a chunky consistency and a paste (much like very coarse sand). Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Fold the rolled oats into the mixture until it is evenly combined.
  3. Form 2-3 tbsp.-sized spheres on a greased baking sheet about 1 1/2″ apart from each other. Pat them down so that they are about 1″ thick, this is so they bake more evenly.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then very carefully turn them over and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. The top and bottom should have a little brown on them.
  5. Take them out of the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes, serve.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Watermelon Mint Sorbet



Things are heating up here on the East Coast, and the humidity doesn't help. So this week for shabbos, I decided to try my hand at a simple sorbet.

I went for watermelon because I'm seeing them everywhere and they're just sooooo tempting when you feel sticky and icky after being outside for only 10 minutes.

And as I had also bought a bunch of mint leaves so I could make some Limonana, I figured why not add a little mint.

The result is this beautifully pink, deliciously refreshing, and wonderfully icy treat.

Make it. Love it.



Watermelon Mint Sorbet (Note: This recipe is based off of Paula Dean's recipe for Raspberry Sorbet.)

Ingredients
  • 1 seedless watermelon, cut into chunks, without rind
  • 2 Cups sugar (note: I actually halved the sugar and water in this recipe and made only 1 Cup of simple syrup, adding a about 1/2 cup of Splenda to the sorbet while it mixed in the ice-cream maker. You can try the original 2 cups, but remember that it was for raspberries that tend to be a little tart and may come out too sweet with watermelon.)
  • 2 Cups water
  • 1/4 Cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 Cup light corn syrup
  • A bunch mint leaves. I know, it's a very exact measurement, but I guess you could eyeball it.

Instructions
  1. Bring the sugar and 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat, add in the mint leaves, and allow the mixture to simmer, without stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.
  2. In a blender, puree the watermelon and lemon juice. Do not attempt this in a food processor like I did. Food processors are apparently not waterproof.
  3. Once the simple syrup is completely cooled, strain out the mint leaves, and mix the syrup with the watermelon puree and the corn syrup. I would even put this mixture into the fridge for an hour to ensure it's as cold as possible before you put it in the ice cream maker.
  4. Pour the mixture into your ice-cream maker, and freeze according to your ice-cream maker's directions.
  5. Store in a tightly sealed container in the freezer and bring out about 10-15 minutes before serving to let it soften.


(Note: I just want to call attention to what I think is some real progress in my photography skills! For these shots, I placed the sorbet in the mug, added the mint leaves as garnish, and put the mug by the window to catch the natural light. I eventually ended up putting the cup on an old, broken Dell laptop because I thought the reflective surface make the picture look even brighter and airier. Thoughts? Criticism? Please share. I want to learn!)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Chummus

I've gotten so many requests for this recipe, and I realized it never got posted to my blog. I have no picture for it, but here's the recipe. Note: I NEVER measure anything for this recipe. The measurements I give are approximations. I recommend tasting as you go and adjusting accordingly. Chummus
  • 1 can Garbanzo beans
  • 1 tsp-1 Tbsp olive oil (more olive oil will result in a thinner chummus)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 Tbsp Tahini
  • 1 tsp lemon juice OR the juice of 1 lemon
  • 1-2 tsp Cumin powder
  • 1 tsp Parsley (either chopped fresh, or dried)
  • The following seasonings are just to taste: Paprika, Ground red pepper, onion powder, salt, pepper
Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree to desired texture. Taste, and adjust seasoning. You can also add other flavorings such as: Pesto, roasted peppers, spinach. If you can dream it, you can make it. :) Enjoy!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Fruity Salad

This is a quicky post. Just wanted to share my lunch. Romaine lettuce, strawberries, cherries, green apple, and Ken's Raspberry Walnut Dressing. Yum!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Strawberry Picking




It's strawberry season, ladies and gents!



Of course, it's almost over.

And of course, while strawberry season comes to a close, I'm only just getting around to it.

But yesterday I headed out to Baugher's Farm to pick them for myself.  I brought along my mom and my daughter, both of them first timers!  They basically just sat on the bench while I did all the labor, but they enjoyed the beautiful weather and the sprawling green landscape.




As you can see, I got a decent amount.  Still, the pickin's were slimmer than I'd hoped.


Since I don't cook or bake as much as I used to, what with this small, precious, demanding person who's entered my life, I figured I'd better freeze these babies for future use.




I washed them, cut off the tops, dried them with paper towels, spread them out on a baking sheet, and stuck them in the freezer.

In a little while, I'll take them out and seal them in a freezer bag.

Supposedly, they'll keep well like this for up to a year, and should be perfect for baking, ice cream, and anything else that doesn't need the strawberries to be perfectly bright and firm.

Of course, I'm keeping a few in the fridge for casual snacking and salads.

In any case, expect to see these guys appear in at least one or two recipes in the near future.


See the aftermath:
Caption this picture for brownie points! :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pride & Joy

Before I became a mom, I though baby drool, spit-up, and other bodily fluids were...pretty darn gross.  I knew I would become a mom one day, but I couldn't really imagine actually DEALING with all of those things.

Yet here I am.  Wearing my daughter's lunch like a badge of honor.

I always knew I wanted to be a mother one day, but I never really knew why.  Maybe it was societal pressures, maybe it was biology.  Whatever it was, it was there, even before I ever developed an interest in children.

And now I've made it.

And I finally know why.

I won't bother enumerating the wonderful things about having a baby of my own.  You can't quantify love.  I just wanted to share this feeling with you all.

My daughter's bodily fluids are actually still pretty gross.

And smelly.

And sometimes don't wash out.

But I wear them with pride.

I am a mother.

And that makes me mother enough. :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Scallion Pancakes and Chicken Stir-Fry




Today hasn't been a "healthy" day for me. I mean, I went running this morning, but...food-wise... Well, I rounded it out with a really good dinner. Not incredibly healthy. Not incredibly unhealthy either. But definitely delicious.


Scallion Pancakes  (I lost the website where I got this recipe! :[ )

Ingredients:
  • 2 Cups flour
  • 3/4 Cups boiling water
  • 2 Cups scallions, green part only, thinly sliced (I had one cup.  It worked out.)
  • 1/8 sesame oil (I didn't have this, so I just used conola oil :-\)
  • 1/4 Cup vegetable oil
Instructions:
  1. Place the flour in a food processor and using the opening, slowly poor the water in with the processor on until a sticky dough comes together. Place the dough on a clean work surface and form into a ball. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel (not a fluffy towel, no need for fuzz in the dough), let rest for 30 minutes.
  2. After 30 minutes, divide the dough into 4 equal portions and roll out, one at a time, into an 8 inch disc. Dab with a few drops of sesame oil and using your fingers, brush to coat very lightly and evenly. Starting at one end of the disk, roll up the dough small and tight. Pinch the ends and twist the dough into a spiral, tucking the end underneath.
  3. Starting with the heel of your hand, and graduating to a rolling pin, flatten into an 8 inch disk again. Dab and rub with sesame oil again, and sprinkle with scallions and roll up like previous step.
  4. This time, roll out into a 7 inch disk.
  5. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add one pancake to the pan, moving the pan to make sure it doesn̢۪t stick. Cook two minutes, then flip and cook two minutes longer until golden brown.
  6. Remove from pan and place on plate lined with paper towels. Repeat cooking method with other three pancakes. Serve with dumpling dipping sauce.



Chicken Stir-Fry

Ingredients:
  • Chicken filet pieces
  • 1 package frozen sugar-snap stir-fry veggies
  • 1/2 Cup Ken's Sesame Ginger Salad Dressing
  • Any other veggies you want to toss in (green beans, peppers, mushrooms)
  • 2-3 Tbsps Teriyaki sauce
  • 1 dash Srirachi hot sauce
Instructions:
  1. Cut chicken filets into small pieces, place them in a ziplock bag with the salad dressing and marinate overnight.
  2. Heat a tiny dash of oil in a large frying pan, add in the pieces of chicken and cook until cooked through.
  3. Take chicken out of pan, set aside, and add in veggies, cover and cook until hot and tender.
  4. Add in teriyaki  and srirachi sauces, mix and cook another minute or two.
  5. Add chicken back in and let it rewarm.
  6. Serve with scallion pancakes, be happy.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Impulsive Baking: Turnover Edition


Tonight, the Huz and I were watching the most recent episode of Once Upon A Time, which featured a "poisoned" apple turnover. 

Needless to say, this made me hungry...even though we were watching it while eating dinner... 
This seemed like a great opportunity to use the puff pastry recipe I got from my favorite Facebook group, Jewish Balti-Mommies. 

It also seemed like a great use for the ancient apple that was in the fridge. 

Yeah, it was totally delicious. 



Puff Pastry Dough
  • 2 Cups flour
  • 1/4 Cup oil
  • 3/4 Cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Mix all ingredients together
  2. Let rest for 10 minutes
Apple Turnovers
(yields 2 large)
  • 1 batch puff pastry dough
  • 1 apple (I used granny smith)
  • sugar (I'm guessing it was between 1/4 Cup and 1/2 Cup)
  • cinnamon (1 tsp?)
  1. Slice apple thin and then toss with sugar and cinnamon until well coated
  2. Split dough in half, roll each half into a large circle.
  3. Place half of the apple slices on one half of a dough circle, then fold over the other half and pinch it shut.  Repeat.
  4. Sprinkle more sugar on top, make some slits in the dough
  5. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes (or longer.  I think it should have baked longer.)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Roasted Chickpeas


Ok, this is another quickie. 

I was jonesing to make SOMETHING today, so when it got to be after dinner (consisting of leftovers from shabbos: lentil tacos, FTW!) I decided to make something I've seen trending in the blog world: Roasted Chickpeas. 

 Chickpeas are, as I'm sure you know, high in protein and fiber, low in fat and other ickiness, and probably have other nutritional benefits, too. And when you roast them with various seasonings, they become a crunchy, flavorful snack! 

 The process is simple: 

Step 1: Open a can of chickpeas and drain 
Step 2: Rinse chickpeas, then dry between two paper towels 
Step 3: Mix chickpeas with whatever seasonings you want. 
Step 4: Roast at 450 degrees farenheit on a baking sheet for 20 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through. 

 See? Simple! 

 So that's my snack for work tomorrow. It probably isn't CHEAPER than a storebough snack, but at least it's healthy, natural, and I have the satisfaction of knowing I made it! 

Oh, and then of course there's those lentil tacos I mentioned before. 
 Also simple: 

Step 1: Dice and saute 1 medium sized onion with some olive oil 
Step 2: Add lentils and taco seasoning 
Step 3: Add water and cook lentils according to package directions (mine said like 45 minutes of simmering time) 
Step 4: Thicken with a little corn starch 
Step 5: Serve with rice, taco shells, salsa, guacamole, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, sour cream, shredded cheese, or whatever else you might put on tacos. 
Step 6: Munch. Munch...munch.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Taco Pizza



Ok, it's late, so this is going to be quick. First, I made a dinosaur.
Look at those eyebrows!
Second, I made taco pizza!
It was tasty!
And pretty easy to make!
So, that was my most brilliant idea ever. :)
And now, a recipe!

Taco Pizza

  • Pizza dough (I made mine from scratch using my usual recipe, and added cilantro and lime juice)
  • Vegetarian ground beef
  • taco seasoning
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 can fire roasted green chiles
  • Shredded cheese
  • Avocado, sliced
  1. Saute onions in a large frying pan with olive oil.
  2. Add taco seasoning to onions, stir, then add vegetarian ground beef.  Crumble up beef while you mix it with the onions and seasoning.
  3. When the beef food product is hot, seasoned and a little browned, remove from pan and set aside.
  4. Put peppers and more oil into frying pan and saute for about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add in corn and chiles, continue to saute until...you want to stop?
  6. Roll out your dough however you like.  I made two small pizzas.
  7. Top pizza dough with fire roasted tomatoes, followed by the meat, followed by the pepper mixture, and then top with cheese.  You can also add some seasonings on top, like cilantro, chili powder, or cumin.
  8. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes, or until everything looks done to your liking.
  9. Top with avocado slices, eat and enjoy!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Yom Ha'Shoa

In every life, in every culture, there are events and stories which become so deeply ingrained in an individual personality or a societal memory that they simply cannot be left behind.

For the Jews, there are so many. Thousands of years of history filled with far too many national tragedies.

All my life I have been exposed to these tragedies, as well as the triumphs, of the Jewish narrative. Some were so far away, so long ago, that I could never connect to them, no matter how hard I tried. I couldn't imagine the suffering. I couldn't realize the people. They were stuck as characters on paper. Characters I didn't know, couldn't relate to.

But when it comes to the Holocaust, the most glaring blight of the 20th century, I had the opportunity to hear the stories from the survivors themselves. They would come to our school, show us pictures, show us scars, tattoos, and tears that will never fade away.

I used to sit and wonder, "If the Nazis came to get me, would I be a survivor, or would I have been one of those skeletal figures piled on trucks, rotting in pits, or burning in the ovens?"

I'm only 2 generations away from those children who were herded like cattle into train cars. I have seen those faces with my own eyes, though they were aged. It has always astounded me how NORMAL they were. These men and women who lost everything as children, grew up with the clear memories of the most wretched violence, and yet they seem so sane, so strong, so loving.

As the last survivors are getting older and disappearing from our world, I wonder how the Holocaust will seem to my children. With they be able to feel it? Will they remember it and connect to it as a tangible tragedy in recent history, with real people, or will it seem to them like those distant tales of storybook characters?

We say we will never forget, and I believe that to be true. We have not forgotten any of our national tragedies. But as time goes on, it becomes harder and harder to really...remember. Everything grows fuzzy, loses color and feel.

And when the Holocaust becomes just another story in the Jewish narrative, when there is no one left to really remember, what suffering will we have to endure then to remind us who we are?

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Pesach Dilemma


picture source



As I embark on Pesach cleaning, I find myself faced with the same dilemma I have every year: The balance between what I need to do and what I feel I SHOULD do.

My husband is anti-chumra on Pesach. He insists that Pesach cleaning should be bare minimum to avoid shalom bayis issues.

I grew up putting away toiletries and scrubbing every inch of the home. My husband says I don't even have to vacuum. (If you wouldn't pick up the chometz and eat it, he says, it's not substantial chometz. Unless it's an actual chunk of chometz, it doesn't matter.)

Every year, I try to adhere to his Pesach rules, and I end up feeling anxious and guilty, like I've for sure missed something important because I didn't have a nervous breakdown and shout obscenities at anyone. Isn't that what Pesach cleaning is all about?

So, okay, I get where he's coming from. It makes sense. I'm sure he's right. But isn't Pesach a time where we're supposed to go l'chumra? Shouldn't I be going that extra mile in my service to Hashem on the holiday that celebrates what may be His greatest chessed (kindness) to the Jewish people, the exodus from Egypt?

I mean, there we were, on the bottom rung, the absolute lowest level of tumah (spiritual impurity) that we could possibly achieve, and Hashem came along and saved us from slavery anyway. He redeemed us from the lowest of the low. Shouldn't we acknowledge that by raising ourselves up as high as we can?

I guess the real question is, which is more important: Shalom Bayis or ridding your home of chometz?

If going above and beyond the call of duty in Pesach cleaning will result in misery, screaming, anger, and an all around negative environment which will cause you and everyone in your household to dread the coming holiday, are we truly honoring Hashem and elevating this experience to a holy place? Are we cleansing ourselves of tuma and geivah (haughtiness)? Or are we sinking even lower into the pit of Mitzrayim?

Food for thought. (Hopefully non-chometzdik food)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Break-fast and Shaloch Manos



It's Purim! Can you guess what my daughter is dressed as? A bunny, of course! So is her cousin. :)

Today was Ta'anis Esther (the Fast of Esther) and as it happens, I have a little tradition about fasts. I always, with very few exceptions, break my fasts on mac & cheese. Sometimes it's the boxed stuff (gotta love it!), sometimes it's just pasta with cheese melted on it. This time, I still had some of that spinach left in the fridge, and I had a craving for fettuccine alfredo, so I decided to try making my own cheese sauce with spinach.

It was pretty yummy, if I do say so myself.

After dinner, I had to run to megillah reading, and when I got back at almost 10PM, I remembered that I had wanted to bake some cupcakes tonight. I could just do it tomorrow, but then I'd have to do it with my dear daughter screaming in my ear. So I went ahead and baked them.



And took a few pictures.



And experimented with staging my shots to get them the way I want them.



I came pretty close. I'm proud.

Now for the recipe.

Pasta with Spinach Cheese Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 Box of Pasta, cooked according to package directions

  • 2-3 Tbsp butter

  • 1 Tbsp chopped garlic

  • 1-2 Cups fresh spinach, ripped

  • 1/4 Cup flour

  • 1.5 Cups milk

  • 1/2-1 Cup shredded cheese, whatever variety suits you



Instructions

  1. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a small saucepan.


  2. Add garlic to butter, saute until fragrant

  3. Add in spinach, continue to saute until wilted


  4. Remove the spinach and garlic from the pan and set aside

  5. Put remaining butter into pan and melt.

  6. Slowly add flour, mixing until well combined after each addition, until the butter is thick.

  7. Add milk and cook on medium heat until milk is hot.

  8. Add cheese and mix until melted.


  9. Mix sauce with pasta and serve



Enjoy!

One note: The sauce was tasty, but not as flavorful as I'd hoped. Try adding salt and pepper and maybe some onion powder.