Monday, December 21, 2015

Celery and Herb Salad

You must be thinking: She emerges from her blog-coma of months of not posting and the first thing she comes up with is celery salad?! Well, let me tell you, I have decided celery has been way too underrated and it is time for that to end. Relegated to mirepoix's and gluey cream of soup cans, celery's loser status on the vegetable chart has been cemented- I myself have been guilty, refusing to put it in my tuna, letting it wilt for weeks in my vegetable drawer but that ends here and now.This salad is the perfect way to demonstrate how delicious celery can be as the star of the show. Its crisp texture and fresh flavor are perfect to add boatloads of parsley, deeply toasted almonds, sweet and tangy pomegranate seeds and scallions. This salad looks beautiful, tastes amazing and has been added to my Shabbat table rotation where it is fought over down to the last almond. You will not regret this. Enjoy!

8 large stalks of celery including all the leaves, the more leaves the better
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 scallions, sliced thinly
8 pitted dates, thinly sliced (optional, but I love the chewy texture it adds)
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds (or dried cranberries)
1/4-1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds (I do 1/3 cup because the almonds are my favorite part)
Juice of one lemon
2 Tbl light olive or canola oil
salt and pepper

Slice the celery stalks thinly and chop up the leaves. Add it all to a bowl and mix in the parsley, scallions, dates and pomegranate. Add the lemon juice, oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix in the almonds just before serving.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Curried Chicken Salad Cups

4 cups chicken, cubed or shredded
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2-3/4 cup mayonaise
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 Tbl curry
1 Tbl honey
1/4 cup chopped parsley
lettuce cups for serving


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving Recipes 2015

The countdown to Thanksgiving has begun! To me that mostly means ordering way too many things online with Black Friday discounts and planning my big Friday night (that's right, no Thursday night Thanksgiving here) Turkey feast. Here are a whole bunch of great Thanksgiving dishes that are sure to enhance your table, some traditional and some that can add a unique twist to your favorite Thanksgiving ingredients. Enjoy!


Mulled Hot Apple Cider

Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus

Roasted Butternut Squash and Chestnut Soup

Thai Curry Sweet Potato Soup

Red Lentil Pumpkin Soup
Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

Salads and Sides:
Wild Rice Stuffed Butternut Squash

Spiced Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Zucchini Corn Muffins
Black Lentil Couscous Salad

Orange Balsamic Beets

DD Kale Salad (omit the cheese)

Rainbow Quinoa Salad

Rainbow Green Bean Salad

Orange Scented Cranberry Sauce

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sukkot Menu

Here is my Sukkot menu inspired by fall (and a little tradition).

Stuffed Cabbage

Pumpkin Soup 
garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds and cinnamon

Chicken Marbella
Chicken roasted with olives and dried plums in a sweet and savory garlic wine sauce

24 hour brisket with Roasted Shallots 

Herb and Garlic Roast Baby Potatoes

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Maple Vinaigrette –(Baby lettuce, cranberries, slivered almonds, roasted squash)

Wild Rice Pilaf

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Pomegranate Chicken

Sticky, tangy, and sweet and just in time for Rosh Hashanah, may I introduce to you my pomegranate chicken using one of my favorite ingredients Pomegranate Molasses also known as Pomegranate syrup. Pomegranate Molasses is a delicious syrup that is both sweet and tangy and made with concentrated pomegranate juice, sugar and often some lemon. It is wonderful in salad dressings, and goes great with meat and poultry and it is the star of the show here. It adds a beautiful and unique tartness that perks up this delicious chicken and is sure to be the star of your Rosh Hashanah table.  It is customary to eat some form of pomegranate on Rosh Hashanah as its abundance of seeds is representative of the Torah's commandments, and on the holiday where we symbolically crown G-d as our king, the beautiful crown shape of the pomegranate is the perfect representation. Enjoy!

1 whole chicken, cut into 8 or 4 chicken bottoms cut in half
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons pomegranate syrup (divided)
2 Tablespoons canola oil
3 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients for the marinade together reserving the 3 tablespoons of pomegranate syrup. Cover the chicken with the marinade and marinate for 2-3 hours.
Preheat your oven to 350 Remove the chicken from the marinade RESERVING the marinade and place in a baking pan. Cover well and bake for an hour and a half. Meanwhile, pour the reserved marinade into a small pot and add the 3 Tablespoons of syrup. Cook over medium high heat until reduced and stick and syrupy, making sure it does not burn, about 10 minutes. After an hour and a half, uncover the chicken and spread the reduced marinade liberally on each piece of chicken. Return to oven and cook another 20-30 minutes until the chicken is caramelized.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Spinach and Artichoke Quiche

Confession: I spend way too much time in my life coming up with new flavors of quiche. Now that I've admitted that, may I introduce to you the Spinach and Artichoke Quiche, my take on spinach and artichoke dip in quiche form. The combination is a classic and so delicious and I've already given you cheesy pasta with spinach and artichoke and the oh so amazing warm spinach and artichoke dip so it was only a matter of time before it came in quiche form and it does not disappoint! The same creamy goodness, the same hints of lemon and the same cheesiness all baked in a crust. Mission accomplished. Enjoy!

2 9 inch pie crusts
2 10 oz boxes frozen chopped spinach or a total of about 560 grams frozen spinach, defrosted
9 oz or 250 grams frozen or canned artichoke hearts, defrosted
one medium onion, diced small
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 Tablespoon oil
6 eggs
2 cups half and half or light cream
1/2 cup sour cream
zest of one lemon
1 tsp granulated garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups white cheddar or mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350.
Squeeze the water out of the spinach and artichoke hearts.Finely chop the artichoke hearts by hand or in a food processor.
In a frying pan heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
In a big bowl whisk the eggs, half and half, sour cream and lemon zest well. Mix in the spinach and artichoke, and season with the garlic powder and salt and pepper. Divide the mixture between the two pie shells and top each pie with 1 cup of shredded cheese. Bake for about 45-50 minutes until the filling has set.

(Please pardon the hideous bright blue birthday party tablecloth background)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Kale and Red Quinoa Salad with Figs and Toasted Almonds

I know, I know, kale and quinoa are officially overdone. Too bad. The more I dream up things to do with them the more I will make them. So there. In this case I am using the lesser used Red quinoa which I actually prefer- its color brightens dishes and its texture is a little chewier. Baby kale, red quinoa, plump dried figs (fresh would be equally delicious here if you could get them), and hefty amounts of toasted almonds with a light and refreshing orange vinaigrette. In my dreams this salad is supposed to have beautiful pomegranate arils but the price for them was so outrageous I could not bring myself to add them. If you can get them, add them, they will add beautiful color, texture and tartness. Perfect summer eating in my book! Enjoy!

1 cup red quinoa, rinsed well, cooked according to package instructions and cooled
1 pound (450 grams) of baby kale or baby spinach, washed, dried and ready to go
1 cup dried figs, sliced. (I used already moist and plumped dried Calimyrna figs but if yours are dry let them steep in a little orange juice before slicing to re-plump them)
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 cup pomegranate arils or sweetened dried cranberries

Place all salad ingredients in a bowl, toss with the dressing and serve.

For the dressing:
zest of one large orange
1/2 cup orange juice
2 Tbl maple syrup
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all together and serve over salad.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Gingered Red Cabbage and Mango Salad

Mango has got to be one of my favorite fruits. At the end of mango season in Israel you can get these giant football size mangoes that are sweeter than sugar and can easily feed 4 people. Every year I eagerly await their arrival to my supermarket. Feeling nostalgic, I bought some mangoes at the farmer's market recently. Though they don't compare to my delicious Israeli mangoes they were pretty darn good and I concocted this salad with them to accompany some steaks I was grilling. The salad is lightly dressed with just a little heat from the chili and a little warmth from the ginger and so fresh and summery tasting.This would be so perfect piled high on top of a fish taco but equally delicious on you summer shabbat table. Enjoy!

1 small head of red cabbage, shredded
1 large mango, peeled and cut into thin slices or cubes
4 scallions, sliced
1 small jalapeno, Anaheim chilli or any green chilli, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley)

Place all the salad ingredients in a bowl and toss with the dressing. Let the salad sit for a minimum of 20 minutes before serving.

1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1-2 Tbl honey (depending on how sweet you want it)
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all the ingredients to emulsify.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Garden Herb Wheat Berry Salad

This past week was the annual shindig to celebrate my daughter's birthday. Every year the guest list includes more adults than kids, many who are shlepping a couple of hours to get there- and pizza and ice cream just doesn't cut it. I try to make different things each year, though I always end up with Mac and Cheese, some type of quiche ( I try new ones each year, stay tuned for this years) and a bunch of salads. This years salads included Caeser, a yummy quinoa kale salad with figs (keep you posted on that one) and this wheat berry salad whose inspiration was taken from my salad drawer. Lots of fresh veggies, lots of fresh herbs and the addictive, chewy texture of wheat berries all bound together with a refreshing lemon vinaigrette- what could be bad? Add some crumbled feta or goat cheese on top and you've got yourself a meal! Enjoy!

2 cups wheat berries (called "chitah" in Israel)
2 cups lightly blanched broccoli
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 carrots, sliced
1 yellow (or any other color) pepper, diced
1 can chickpeas, rinsed
4 scallions, sliced
1/4 cup sliced fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Place the wheat berries in a pot and cover with triple the amount of water. Add salt as you would to pasta and boil the wheat berries until tender but still a little chewy-around 40 minutes. Drain. Place the wheat berries in a bowl and mix in 1/3 of the dressing while the wheat berries are still warm. Once the wheat berries have cooled add the rest of the vegetables and herbs. Mix and season to taste with salt and pepper.

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbl Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all together to emulsify.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Sweets and Beets and Tahini Silan Dressing

It's that time of year, the annual 9 day pot luck luncheon when a whole bunch of us women get together to eat, shmooze and try out out each others dairy dishes. Every year I agonize about what to make and inevitably I almost always end up making some form of a salad. Now, I know quinoa is overdone, or at least I feel it is overdone, but I had lots of it, it is super healthy and I find it a challenge to come up with new ways to use it. This is the salad I made. Roasted ruby red beets and sweet potatoes fresh from the Farmer's market, a little fresh herbs and a delicious tahini and silan dressing. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Silan is date honey, a sweetener made from dates that is readily available in Israel and starting to find its way to America as well. It has a distinctively different taste than honey or maple syrup and a beautiful dark color but in a pinch if you can't find it then substitute maple syrup or agave nectar to sweeten the dressing. Enjoy!

2 Tbl oil
2 cups quinoa
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
2 medium beets, peeled and cut into cubes
3 Tablespoons oil
3 scallions, sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Rinse the quinoa very well under running water for at least a minute. Heat the two tablespoons of oil in a pot and add the quinoa. Stir for a minute to toast the quinoa slightly. Add the stock or if you are using water add the water and season it with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer and simmer the quinoa for about 15 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Once the water is absorbed close the flame and leave the pot covered to let the quinoa steam. Uncover after 5 minutes, fluff the quinoa with a fork and let it cool.

Meanwhile, while the quinoa is cooking, preheat your oven to 375. On a baking tray place the cubed beets and sweet potatoes. Drizzle on the 3 Tablespoons oil, season with salt and pepper, mix and place in the oven. Roast the vegetables until they are easily pierced with a knife (the beets will be a bit firmer than the sweet potatoes).

To assemble, place the quinoa in a bowl. Top with the scallions, roasted beets and sweets. Drizzle the dressing over it all and garnish with the sesame seeds and chopped parsley.

For the Dressing:
1/2 cup tahini paste
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 large clove garlic
4 Tablespoons Silan (or maple syrup or agave nectar)
1/3-1/2 cup warm water as needed

Whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, salt, garlic and silan. The mixture will be thick and a little hard to mix. Slowly mix in the water adding as much as needed until you achieve the desired consistency (you should be able to drizzle it over the salad.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

9 Days Recipes 2016

Back by popular demand it's the 9 days recipe collection! Every year I get lots of feedback about how helpful my 9 days recipe round up is, so here we go again! Though we may make dairy meals often during the year, many of us find menu planning for 9 days worth of them daunting. So here are a whole bunch of awesome recipes to help you out! Enjoy!

Soups and Salads:
Asparagus Soup (Pareve or Dairy)

Roasted Tomato Soup

Corn Chowder
Summer's Bounty Soup
Blooming Onion and Cheese Bread
Edamame Quinoa Salad
Quinoa Salad with Roasted Broccoli and Halloumi Cheese
Mango and Black Bean Quinoa Salad
Tortellini Salad

Greek Salad with Lemony Garlic Dressing
Summer Wheatberry Salad
Caprese Wheatberry Salad
Baby Kale Salad with Roasted Beets and Feta Cheese
Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets and Sweets and Tahini Silan Dressing

Tuna Croquettes with Horseradish Cream Sauce

Fish Tacos
Kani Avocado Salad

Halibut Piccata
Maple Sesame Salmon
Pesto Halibut with Roasted Tomatoes
Panko Parmesan Crusted Salmon

Wasabi Ginger Salmon
Pan Fried Halibut with Lemon Cream Sauce
Sun Dried Tomato, Basil and Pine nut Crusted Salmon
Crispy Golden Fish Sticks

Quiches and Tarts:
Rustic Salmon Tart
Zucchini Galette

Tomato Basil and Goat Cheese Quiche
Asparagus and Leek Quiche
Spinach and Artichoke Quiche
Potato Leek "Soup" Quiche
French Onion Quiche
Swiss Chard and Leek Tart
Spanakopita Strudel

Red Lentil Veggie Burgers

Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Pepper

Crispy Cheesy Zucchini Quinoa Cakes

Black Bean and Rice Enchiladas
Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers
Cherry Cheese Knish

Cheesey Cheddar Zucchini Bread
Eggplant Meatball Subs
Savory Cheese and Onion Noodle Kugel
Baked Blintzes

Eggplant Involtini
Not Your Grandmother's Tuna Noodle Casserole

Penne ala vodka
Asparagus and Rigatoni with Boursin Cream Sauce
Fettuccine Portabella

Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi

Baked Spinach and Artichoke Pasta
Cheese Latcakes
Broccoli and Cheese Stromboli
Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
Veggie Chili
Salmon Pasta Pesto
Salmon Papardelle with Lemon Cream sauce

Baked Eggplant Spaghetti
Baked Butternut Squash and Cheese Polenta
Chickpea Burgers with Lemon Garlic Aioli

Broccoli Potato and Cheese Latkes

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes
Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes
Banana Buttermilk Pancakes
Zucchini Blueberry Bread

Monday, May 18, 2015

Crispy Cheesy Zucchini Quinoa Cakes

Spring is here and summer is around the corner and you know what that means, right? It means I am once again faced with an overabundance of beautiful zucchini and need to come up with lots of new ways to use it up. Enter these cute little babies. With Shavuot coming up I wanted to make something dairy but also light as I tend to eat lighter as the weather warms up. These are the perfect little bites of spring- hints of lemon and basil that I think go beautifully with zucchini, some Parmesan cheese because everything is better with cheese, and the exceptionally crispy crust made by crisped quinoa. Delish! Serve with some sour cream mixed with a little lemon and basil and you are good to go. Enjoy!

2 cups shredded zucchini (preferably the dark zucchini not the lighter squash)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup vegetable stock or water
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
2 Tbl minced fresh basil
1/2  tsp dried oregano
1 egg
1 cup bread crumbs (or up to 1/2 cup more as needed)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
oil for shallow frying

Place the zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with the salt. Let the zucchini drain for about half an hour. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa in the vegetable stock or water- rinse the quinoa well, place in a small pot, pour in the water, season with salt and pepper, bring to a boil then lower to a simmer and cook about 15 minutes, until the water has been absorbed. Turn off the flame and keep the pot covered for another 5 minutes. Remove cover and fluff the quinoa with a fork.
In a frying pan (the same one you will use to fry the cakes) heat the 2 Tbl of olive oil and saute the onion and garlic.
Mix together the drained zucchini, quinoa and the rest of the ingredients. Season well with salt and pepper. Form mixture into cakes, pressing them together well so they won't fall apart and fry them in a little bit of oil until crispy on both sides.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Pretzel Crusted Triple Peanut Cheesecake Bars

You're gonna want to sit down for this one. And by sit down I mean get up and make it immediately. This is THE dessert you need to make this Shavuot. Four layers of chocolate and peanut butter goodness with a salty pretzel and peanut crust, a creamy peanut butter cheesecake filling and an over the top chocolate peanut butter ganache. Sweet and salty, creamy and crunchy and with the winning combo of chocolate and peanut butter you CANNOT go wrong serving this dessert. It is the ultimate Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in cheesecake form and you'e going to have to trust me on this one that it is worth every calorie. The good news is that because it is so rich and decadent you only need a small square to get your fill. You're welcome!

For the crust:
1 cup finely crushed salted pretzels
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, finely chopped
8 Tbl butter
2 Tbl brown sugar
1 cup chocolate chips

For the filling:
450 grams (16oz) of cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

For the ganache:
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter

Preheat your oven to 350.
Line a 9x9 inch pan with baking paper and spray it well.
Melt the butter and mix in the crushed pretzels, peanuts and brown sugar. Press it well into the bottom of the pan and bake 10 minutes until set. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. Return to oven for one minute. Remove from oven and quickly spread the melted chocolate over the crust. Let the crust cool.
Meanwhile make the filling- In a mixer combine the cream cheese and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla, peanut butter and salt and mix well. Once the crust has cooled, pour the filling over crust and bake for about 30 minutes until the edges are light golden brown and the cheesecake has set. Let cool completely and refrigerate a few hours to set. Once the cheesecake has cooled you can make the ganache.
In a saucepan heat the cream, chocolate chips and peanut butter together and mix constantly with a spatula until completely smooth and uniform in color. Pour over the cheesecake and refrigerate up to 3 days before serving.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Asian Red Cabbage Salad

I don't know about you, but I am always looking for new ways to make cabbage salad. Cabbage is cheap and healthy and my go to veggie for salad when I'm too lazy to deal with lettuce. Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against sweet cabbage salads, you know, the ones that call for craisins, and mandarin oranges etc. but I was kind of getting sick of those and wanted something new and interesting. Well, I recently had a burger that came with a side cabbage salad that was delicious and refreshing and I had to go home and recreate it. This is what I came up with. Lots of ginger, hints of sesame and lots of crunch from the cabbage, kholrabi, and peanuts. It's a keeper!

1 small red cabbage, shredded
2 Persian or Israeli cucumbers, skin on, sliced
1 large kholrabi, cut into matchsticks
4 scallions, sliced
1/3 cup roughly chopped salted peanuts
2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Place the cabbage, cucumbers, kholrabi and scallions in the bowl. Dress the salad with the dressing and top with the peanuts and sesame seeds.

1 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 Tbl toasted sesame oil
2 Tbl honey
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
salt and pepper to taste

 Whisk together and pour over salad.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Red Lentil-Veggie Burgers

Chock full of goodness these burgers are! I am a sucker for a good veggie burger and unlike in the States where you can buy pre-packaged good quality veggie burgers to keep on hand for lazy meal emergencies, I have yet to find good ones here. I wanted to make a big batch of veggie burgers to keep in the freezer and pull out on a whim but had a hard time committing to what kind of veggie burger to make. There are so many options, so many delicious combinations, but I settled on using red lentils and chickpeas as my base and then adding lots of yummy and healthy additions- carrot, zucchini, kale, herbs, onion, oats for texture and sunflower seeds for crunch. The truth is though, you can customize these burgers however you want- use black or white beans instead of chickpeas, green or brown lentils instead of red and though I used cumin here because I love the earthiness of cumin with lentils you could go a different route and use oregano or basil etc. Have other veggies lying around? Throw those in as well! Though these burgers are super healthy, they are also really really tasty- I served them on toasted buns slathered with some Sriracha Garlic Mayo, lettuce and tomato and was in veggie burger heaven! Enjoy!

3 cups cooked red lentils ( 1 1/2 cups raw should make 3 cups cooked), divided.
2 Tbl oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
2 cups chopped kale or your favorite green
1 15 oz can (about 1 1/2 cups) chickpeas
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup of your favorite chopped herbs, I used a mix of parsley and cilantro
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1 medium carrot, grated
1 medium zucchini, grated
3 eggs
1/2- 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (depending on how moist the mixture is)
1 1/2 Tablespoons ground cumin
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
1 Tablespoon granulated garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
Canola or light olive oil for frying

In a saute pan, heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic until the onions start to be translucent. Add the kale until it starts to wilt. To your food processor add half of the cooked lentils, the onion, garlic and kale mixture, the chickpeas, oats, herbs and sunflower seeds. Pulse 2-3 times just to start breaking up the chickpeas and oats, you don't want the mixture to be mushy. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the rest of the lentils, carrot, zucchini,eggs and spices, seasoning well with salt and pepper. Add bread crumbs, enough for the mixture to come together well but not be dry. Form into traditional bun size patties that are about 1/2 an inch thick. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry on each side until crisp, about 3 minutes on each side.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad

Who doesn't love a great potato salad? I find myself gravitating often to the basic kind that I grew up with, white potato, mayo, pickles and onions but every once and a while it is fun to change it up, ditch the mayo and try something new and this sweet potato salad hit the spot. Roasted sweet potatoes are my go to addition to salads. I like to roast a bunch of them at a time and then add them to different salads throughout the week. They add sweetness, texture, heartiness and make you feel like you are really eating something substantial. The best thing about sweet potatoes is that they are great with lots of different flavors- you can make them sweet and cinnamony, or go totally savory and they hold up just as well. This is a savory salad which makes a great and colorful side dish to any meal and is great cold, warm or room temperature.The natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes is contrasted beautifully by the warmth of the cumin and is perked up by the lime juice while the black beans add color, texture and earthiness.  Enjoy!

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into about 1 inch chunks
1 large red onion, cut into medium chunks
2 Tbl oil
1 tsp granulated garlic
1/2  tsp cumin
1 red pepper, diced
3 scallions, sliced
1 15 oz (425 gram) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. On a sheet tray place the chunked sweet potatoes and red onion. Drizzle on the oil, season with the garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and roast until the sweet potatoes are just tender, about half an hour. Remove from the oven and let them cool. Once cool, place the sweet potatoes into a bowl and add the diced red pepper, scallions, black beans and cilantro or parsley. Dress with the vinaigrette and toss gently so as not to crush the potatoes and beans.

For the dressing:
1/3 cup lime juice
1/2- 2/3 cup light olive or canola oil (depending on your preference-less oil will make it more acidic)
1 tsp cumin
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tsp brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all together and pour over salad.

recipe adapted from Mark Bittman

Monday, January 19, 2015

Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Last week the weather forecasts predicted a massive blizzard of epic proportions. Immediately, my thoughts went to last year's blizzard where we were stranded for almost a week and ran out of all basic food (not to mention had no heat or running water for a while.) Apparently, I and most of the country were still traumatized because everyone attacked the supermarkets and stocked up on food, anticipating feeding their families 3 meals a day for weeks as if the Apocalypse was coming. I freely (and sheepishly)  admit that I bought enough to keep us stranded for a good two weeks. Of course, as Murphy's law has it, our blizzard turned out to be just a giant money making conspiracy by the supermarkets and we only got a measly few inches. Needless to say, I and I'm sure lots of other people were left with tons of leftover groceries. Most of what I had left could be used for a while afterwards but I had lots of peppers that were going downhill quickly and this is what became of them.
This is a vegetarian Tex-Mex take on stuffed peppers and they are truly delicious. I used quinoa instead of the traditional rice to make it healthier and added lots of black beans and spices for flavor. Instead of the spices, to make things easier you can substitute your favorite Taco seasoning blend- I personally love the one Trader Joe's makes that has no MSG and I imported a few packets with me last time I was in America. You can also add soy crumbles or your fake chopped meat of choice to this and it would be delicious as well. This recipe makes a lot but is yummy as leftovers the next day. I ate mine topped with sour cream, chopped cilantro and more sriracha and was in healthy Tex-Mex heaven. Enjoy!

5 large green or red bell peppers, either halved with half stem on or whole with tops removed
2 Tbl olive or canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno or small hot pepper, finely diced (optional)
1 small zucchini, diced
1 1/3 cups quinoa, rinsed very, very well
1 cup water
1 800 gram (28oz) can crushed tomato, divided
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 Tablespoon ground cumin (alternatively, instead of the spices you can substitute 2 Tbl of your favorite Taco seasoning mix)
1/2 Tablespoon chili powder
pinch of oregano
1 Tablespoon sriracha (optional)
salt and pepper
3 cups grated cheddar cheese (or your favorite Mexican cheese blend), divided in half
1 1/2 cups crushed tomato (the rest of the can)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp salt

Heat a pot of lightly salted water to boiling and add the halves or whole peppers. Let cook for 4 -5 minutes until softened but still crisp. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Saute until the onions start to get translucent and then add the zucchini. Saute another minute until the zucchini starts to cook and then add the quinoa stirring it around with the vegetable to let it toast a little. Add the 1 cup of water,  1 1/2 cups of crushed tomato, black beans, cumin, chili powder, oregano and sriracha and season well with salt and pepper. Cover the pan, bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes until the quinoa is al dente. Close the flame and let the quinoa sit another 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork. Cool the mixture. Once cool mix in 11/2 cups of grated cheddar cheese.

Preheat the oven to 375.
In a bowl mixed the remainder of the crushed tomato with the water and spices. Spread at the bottom of a baking dish. Nestle the peppers in the sauce and fill each with quinoa mixture. Sprinkle the remaining cup of  cheddar cheese on top of each pepper,  cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes until the cheese is nice and melted.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Orange, Cranberry, White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

OK, the title is a mouthful, but let me tell you, these cookies hands down win the best cookie contest (the imaginary one in my mind that is.) Forget about chocolate chip cookies- these buttery, orange-y, chocolate-y cookies will soon be your new favorite. It's not often that I make cookies. I find them tedious and usually un-enjoyable to bake and prefer to make bars or cakes if I have to bake at all, but these were worth every minute in the kitchen. For every Shabbat I make a new and different cake/cookie/pastry for our special family breakfast-some are huge successes and find themselves made again down the line, some are less so. This will be a first for me, but I will be making these cookies again for the second week in a row, that is how delicious they were. Enjoy!

For the orange sugar:
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp fresh orange zest

Mix together and set aside.

For the cookies:
1 cup of sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh orange zest
3/4 cup (150 grams) butter at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips or white chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment mix the sugar and orange zest together. This will help to better incorporate the orange flavor into the cookie. Add the butter, egg and vanilla and mix until creamy. Reduce speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat until well mixed and then mix in the cranberries and white chocolate.
Shape the dough into about one inch balls ( I used the smallest size cookie scoop) and roll each ball into the sugar and orange zest mixture and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Press down each cookie with the bottom of a glass to flatten them. Bake for about 7-9 minutes until the edges are light golden brown, don't over bake!

Recipe adapted from Land O' Lakes