Monday, January 31, 2011

Happy Birthday Dad!

In honor of my father's birthday, today, I'd like to share with you a very easy, delicious cake recipe my friend, Mazal, gave me from the Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim Sisterhood Cookbook.
 
Leah's Easy Applesauce Cake
         Ingredients
  • 2 cups (256 grams) flour
  • 2 cups (200 grams) sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking Powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (237 ml) oil
  • 1 cup (237 ml) apple sauce (half a can)
Mix dry ingredients well. Add in the wet ones. Mix well; make sure there isn't dry flour at the bottom of the bowl. Bake at 180C / 350F for about 45 minutes.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bulgur Pilaf: The Instant Whole Grain

By now we've all heard that whole grains are healthier.  However, one of the greatest barriers to eating whole grains is that they take longer to cook.  Both singles and families are often pressed for time and turn to instant foods.  I want to encourage you to engineer healthy snacks and meals you can prepare ahead of time that work for your tastes and lifestyle.  Here's an idea:

 1. Find an airtight container, like the kind you might use to store flour or cereal.  (You can also use a zip-top bag.)  Fill it half way with Bulgur Wheat, which you can find in spice stores, health food stores, and the bulk bins of many grocers.  You may find it in a box marketed as tabouli/tabbouleh, often with spices added.   (Pictured above is a side-by-side comparison of dry and prepared bulgur.)

 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Crepes

Last week I made crepes with my kids.  I took a big risk letting them pour the batter into the pan.  I also let them splash water in the pan to see that it sizzled, meaning the pan was hot.  The fun part, which young and old can both enjoy, is spreading/sprinkling the toppings.  Sautéed spinach, onions, and mushrooms are all good choices for a savory crepe.  You can skip or reduce the sugar in the recipe and even add herbs right in the batter.  Alternatively, you can add honey or agave syrup to the batter and fill the crepes with sweet crepe, cottage cheese, bananas, chocolate spread, and/or peanut butter.  I made thick whole wheat crepes with agave syrup.  I'd like to try the following recipe from composer Peter Vamos, on YouTube.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pictures of Onion Challah

   Tamar of Petach Tikva, Israel, recently sent me pictures of the Easy Awesome Onion Challah she made on two different occasions.  This is what she said:

Thank you so much for this recipe Yosefa! I've made it twice now...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Shhh... It's A Secet

You may have noticed from my blogroll that I like sewing and crafts.  This time I'm sewing for you!  As a gift for my followers I will be giving away two unique Cooking Outside the Box aprons.  There will be a drawing in July and the winners will get to choose their favorite apron from several designs, including children's and unisex aprons.  Subscribe or become a "follower" today, so you don't miss out on all the details to come in February.  Pictured are some of my works in progress modeled by CookingManager, Hannah K.

Sending Food

This Guest-Worthy Wednesday I want to discuss the opposite of having guests - sending food.  Many communities organize at least a week of dinner or lunch for families going through certain tough situations: a new baby, a parent or child in the hospital, a death of an immediate relative, or moving in or out of the community.  Kosher on a Budget used the term "Chesed Meals."

When you give food like jam or olives that are process intensive, you are giving a unique gift that shows the recipient you are worthy of their time.  If you give a friend in need some fresh produce, you say, "I was thinking about you, but don't worry, it was no trouble."  There is a food for every occasion!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Make eggs in an Electric Kettle

When I was in college, I used my inexpensive electric kettle (of the brand pictured below, from Amazon) to make everything from tea to mushroom barley soup, to mac and cheese.  I think an electric kettle is an excellent high school graduation gift for a young adult moving into a college dormitory.

Today, I mostly use it for tea, coffee, reheating the bath, and... EGGS!

Do you want eggs with silky, tender whites and pure yellow yolks in about 15 minutes start to finish?  Use an electric kettle!  (Also known as a "kum-kum" in Israel.) 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chai Tea - Guest Post

Please welcome Rivki Locker of Kosher Cooking for Ordinary People and Healthy Eating for Ordinary People.  Rivki describes herself as "just an ordinary Jewish mother who tries to cook and eat healthy, and who wants to help other people" like herself.  Rikvi is a hard working mom with four children. She says she never seems to have time for any extras, but somehow finds time to cook and photograph food for her blog.  You can follow Rivki on Twitter @ordinaryblogger.

  Chai Tea
It's rare in the life of a full time working mother of four.  But it happens every once in a while. The older kids head off to school or to friends, the baby goes in for a nap, and I find myself with a half hour of quiet time on my hands. Time to read the paper. Time to take out my crocheting. Time to call a friend. Time just for me.

It’s at times like this, so few and far between, that I reach into the spice cabinet for the cardamom, fennel seeds and star anise. Because there’s nothing like a cup of fresh homemade chai tea to complete the feeling of relaxation and luxury.

Here’s my chai tea recipe. I’ve perfected the technique over the years, borrowing from lots of different recipes I’ve seen. It’s my own unique blend, and I think it’s just perfect.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Coffee and Tea

Tea and coffee both have health benefits and are a lovely, relaxing beverage on a cool day.  The trick is to learn to enjoy these beverages unsweetened.

Teas flavored with fruit, vanilla, hazelnut, and flavors reminiscent of dessert often don't taste right without any sweetener.  Drinking tea with agave nectar in place of dessert, might be  good choice, but don't make it a habit.  Try different tea varieties until you find one you enjoy drinking unsweetened.  If you like fruity herbal tea with honey or sugar, consider trying green tea or mint tea, unsweetened.  Jasmine, Oolong, and Earl Grey are other varieties I find are exciting enough without sugar.   Kahahri Red Tea has many of the antioxidant benefits of green or black tea without the caffeine.  It is now much easier to find and comes in a variety of interesting flavors.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Kids Can Surprise You

I've mentioned that you should keep putting healthy food on the table, because kids go through stages of liking things or refusing foods.  Last night I made a very mediocre salmon fillet and my kids gobbled it up!  My daughter kept going back for more and even finished the cold leftovers this evening.  She couldn't stop raving about it.  You never know!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Chicken Fingers

For the second episode of "Family Friendly Friday," we're making low fat chicken fingers!

I had four very large boneless skinless breasts.  You can use any boneless, skinless fowl.  Martha Stewart says kosher is the best, just rinse it... but then make sure to clean your sink.

 Beat 2 eggs (less for less meat) in a bowl or large measuring cup.

In a shallow bowl or plate mix bread matzoh meal or bread crumbs with your favorite herbs and spices.  Or, mix in a zip-top bag.  This time I used a generous amount of "Philadelphia fish and chicken seasoning."  I've also done this with Italian herb mix.  Salt and pepper, optional, to taste.

Rinse chicken breasts and cut into strips with meat shears.  I did four strips per breast.  Submerge strips in egg, shake of excess, then dredge in topping on both sides.  Alternatively, toss chicken strips into the zip-top bag with topping, and let the kids mix it up, like shake-n-bake!

Lay breaded strips in a single layer in a lightly greased pan and bake until golden brown.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Our Olive Aventure Part 5: Fix Salty Black Olives

I was planning to have a few guests for brunch this week, so I did a little olive taste test.  The green olives are nice.  The black olives are awful!  My first reaction was good, then I got to the overly salty core, and I gagged.  I attempted to fix them by stabbing them with a fork, soaking them in water for 24 hours, then drying them and putting them in fresh oil.  I hope it works.  Additionally, the front runners so far, in my opinion, are the oil cured olives with lavender.  I can't wait to reuse my lavender infused oil when the olives are gone!

Also see Part 4: Dry Cure.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sourdough Brownie Bites with Rosewater

Today (Guest Worthy Wednesday) is a great day to mix up a batch of cookies and invite a friend over for tea.  These chocolate cake-like cookies are classy enough for adults, but will surely please any youngsters at the table.  A hint of rosewater* adds some whimsy and sophistication to this simple treat.

I'm particularly proud of this dessert because I had a certain taste and texture in mind, I measured and recorded what I did, and I succeeded in creating the cookie I set out to make!  I used my food processor; you can also mix by hand or use a stand mixer.  Here's what I did:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Birthday of the Trees

Tomorrow (Wednesday) night begins the Jewish holiday of Tu B'Shvat, the birthday of the trees. This is a great time, not only to eat fruit and plant trees, but also to celebrate the environment!
Today, "Kitchen Tips Tuesday", and in honor of the upcoming "Biblical Earth Day," I'd like you to look around your kitchen and home and do two things:

1. Replace one disposable item with something reusable.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Soup Fail; Good Beets


My first real pressure cooker experiment was not very tasty.  I attempted a vegan stew with heavy middle eastern seasonings, chick peas, barley, beets, and carrots.  (My own idea, not from a cookbook.)  I probably should have learned by now that my husband won't eat pink or purple food.

Because the chickpeas take longer to cook, I left the carrots and beets whole.  I cut one of three beets up and threw them back in my not-quite-right soup.  The other two pressure boiled beets, I dressed with cider vinegar, brown mustard, and a dash of salt.  They are delicious on their own or on a bed of greens (shown), and/or topped with toasted walnuts and blue cheese.

I tagged this as kid friendly, because I think most kids love beets.  However, they are a lot friendlier if your kids wear bibs and use a fork.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Barley Sushi

Today is the second episode of "Sugar Slashing Sunday."  Barley might be my new favorite diabetic-friendly food.  It is a great substitute for rice, and it has culinary benefits beyond health.  Pearl or pearled barley has had the outer husk removed.  Pearl barley has a Glycemic Index (GI) around 22-25, half that of regular rice (varies between 38-87 depending on variety), which means it will have a lower impact on post-meal blood glucose.   

Barley can be a little more cumbersome to roll into sushi, but it stays springy and tender longer than white rice, which tends to dry out in the fridge.  This makes pearl barley an excellent choice if you want to roll your sushi even two days in advance.  By following the tips bellow, even novice sushi makers can to make this delicious, good-carb treat.   

Friday, January 14, 2011

Family Friendly Friday - Kids in the Kitchen

Welcome to "Family Friendly Friday," the last of my four newly introduced daily topics.  Every Friday I will post food that is fun to cook with kids or easy to get kids to eat.  It is so important to expose your children to a wide variety of food, but sometimes you need something that you know will go down without a fight.  I hope to bring you recipes that are easy on the young. unrefined palette, with a higher nutritional content and lower price tag than processed chicken fingers.


Today I want to discuss cooking with your kids. 

Before letting my kids help in the kitchen, I ask myself, what's the worse that could happen? Even adults need reminding that the stove is hot. However, by elementary school, children can be taught basic knife skills. Give age appropriate responsibilities and use age appropriate supervision. I need to stand over my 5-year-old when she uses a knife. Most 7-8 year-olds are safe cutting tender food. Then you can actually get other things done in the kitchen! Give your kids large tender food. Chop raw carrots, sweet potatoes, or tiny things like garlic yourself.

Around 4, let your child try peeling carrots with a quality peeler. Stay close and give them tips. One nick or cut is a learning experience, nothing to fret over, but maybe a good time to re-evaluate their technique or the appropriateness of the task. Using appropriate supervision and knowing your children's abilities should keep you out of the emergency room.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pressured - Part 2: It's here!!

Can you see my huge smile reflected in my new pressure cooker??  I got an 8 liter Stainless Steel Soltam Pressure cooker on sale at the grocery store for 195 NIS - about $55.  It's not the set or capacity I wanted, but it was a good deal and I have it now!

And, one month later, my cook books are finally here!  Unless you need pretty, shiny, pictures showing what your food will never look like in real life, I HIGHLY recommend the cook books by Lorna Sass.  They are packed full of recipes, tips, variations, a comments that will give you a good idea of how the dish will come out.  I love great food photography, and I don't read many cookbooks.  However, since I'm new to the pressure game, and I can't keep opening the lid to taste the dish, I thought I could use some help.  These are better than the Joy of Cooking!
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Amazon.com Kitchen 4-for-3 Deal

I got an e-mail about this deal on Amazon.com right AFTER I purchased three items for my brother.  (Congratulations on your graduation, Joel!)

Here are the DETAILS.

Here are some of the many items you can get on sale.

Check out my Amazon Carousel at the end of the right-hand column for some suggestions.  You might want to set a timer before you start shopping.  I got sucked into all the great deals and tools I wish I had.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Guest-Worthy Wednesday

Welcome to "Guest-Worthy Wednesday!"  Wednesday is an excellent day to start thinking about who's coming for dinner this weekend.  On Wednesdays I will feature recipes that look appetizing and have flexible cooking schedules or tips for hosting.

Today, please check out the guest post I wrote for CookingManager.com: 4 Great Ways to Cook Cauliflower.  Marinated cauliflower can be made 1-2 days in advance and stay in the fridge until guests arrive.  Roasted cauliflower has a flexible cooking time and can stay warm in the oven until you need it, or you can serve it cool on a green salad.  Mashed cauliflower is a great substitute for mashed potatoes for diabetic guests.  Try it in shepherd's pie.

Click HERE for more Guest-Worthy food, such as Butternut Squash Soup and New Year Chicken & Rice.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kitchen Tips Tuesday - Wash Dishes with Less Water

Welcome to "Kitchen Tips Tuesday!"  Every Tuesday I plan to share a way to make kitchen chores go more smoothly, or post a tip to reduce your ecological footprint or grocery bill.  This week I'd like to share some water-saving tips from "How to Wash Dishes like an Israeli", written by one of my favorite bloggers, Maya, of How to Be Israeli.

Israel, as much of the world these days, is very aware of a limited and diminishing water supply.  I arrived in Israel last year with my wasteful American dish-washing habits, and quickly learned, via Maya's blog, that there was a better way.  Maya begins by saying that the best way to save water is to use a dishwasher.  However, if you, like me, don't have one of those nifty miracle machines, here's the next best method:



1. Fill a small bowl with hot, soapy water.  I don't like to send gallons/liters of water down the drain waiting for the (possibly) hot water to travel down the five stories of pipes to our apartment.  Instead, I follow Maya's advice to heat water in an electric tea kettle.

2. Scrape/rinse food off the dishes while organizing them into piles of plates, bowls, silverware, etc.

3. Use a sponge in the bowl of warm, sudsy water to soap/scrub all the dishes.

4. Rinse one or two dishes at a time, turning off the stream of water while you put each dish on the drying rack.


5. Clean off your counter. It gets very soapy. I prefer a little squeegee for this.


Click HERE for more kitchen tips, such as getting Podcasts to listen to while you work, Non-stick 101, how to cool soup quickly (at the bottom), and an easy way to peel an avocado.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Adventures in Sourdough PLUS Blog Award

I'm starting a sourdough starter... or trying to.  I have some very sour smelling batter, but no bubbles.  I may try another batch at the same time using Professor Calvel's Instructions.  He seems to know his stuff.  If you try starting some sourdough now, we can make bread and cookies together!

NEXT-DAY UPDATE:  I have bubbles!  My starter doesn't stink anymore.  I might be ready to bake with it.  However, I feel an obligation to disclose that I cheated.  Yesterday I stopped feeding my starter and in the evening I added the tiniest pinch of dairy-free probiotics and about 6 grains of dry store-bought yeast.  I thought it might speed along the process of balancing the bacteria and the yeast, which is necessary to get past stinky sour and onto good beer sour.  Now I'm going to fold laundry while watching the sourdough episode of the Frugal Gourmet (In 3 parts on YouTube).  In part 3 he says "Talk to the dough!...  Grandma never needed to see a shrink ... Grandmas talked to their dough."


This week I was nominated for the Stylish Blogger Award by Healthy Eating for Ordinary People.  I am honored that my baby blog has been recognized as a happening spot in the Blogosphere!

So now it's my turn.  In order to accept this award I must:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sugar Slashing Sunday

Welcome to the first edition of "Sugar Slashing Sunday!"  Every Sunday I plan to post a meal that won't spike your blood sugar, or a tip to help regulate blood sugar.  These posts will be tagged "diabetic friendly."  Thank G-d, most of my readers and I don't have diabetes, but we all need to watch our blood sugar.  We all want to be healthier and have more energy, naturally.  Stabilizing our blood sugar is the first step to keep our bodies working smoothly.

Did you know that insulin enhances learning and memory?  Insulin is important for regulating and metabolizing carbohydrates and fats.  If we are wasting our insulin on "busy work" -- taking care of simple sugars, often with no nutritional treasures attached -- our insulin can't do more important jobs.  In addition, when you eat simple sugars, your pancreas releases too much insulin quickly; but, because simple sugars are digested quickly, all that extra insulin gets bored when it's done with your snack.  Then it sends messages to your brain to feed you more!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Today's Challenge: Clean Your Oven, Read a Blog

Why wait for Spring (or Passover) for a little cleaning?  Freshen up your oven today!  I want to try a natural oven cleaner.  1. I don't like all the fumes and possible chemical residue of commercial products, and 2. I don't feel like going to the store, and I already have vinegar, baking soda, and other suggested natural cleansers.  The question now:  Which one??  I recently inherited Heloise from A to Z, in which Heloise says anything can be cleaned with vinegar and/or baking soda.  However, the only suggestions she had for ovens involved using window squeegees and ice scrapers.


Mrs. Clean has some great tips, but too many recipes and no reviews.  I just want to know which one works best.  Price plus effort divided by cleaning power.  I'm planning to try 5 T Baking Soda + 4 T White vinegar + 3 drops Liquid Dish Soap.  It doesn't use bleach, involve heating my oven, or force me to squeeze lemons I'd rather use for salad.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Our Olive Adventure Part 4: Dry Cure

Were you wondering what happened to the black olives I separated after Part 1 of our Adventure?  I started the process of dry curing them.  To learn more, watch the video:



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cjw1AIEQrKY

Here's a picture of olives in the market:

Also see Part 1: Find Olives, Part 2: Pit and Soak,  Part 3: Brine, and Part 5: Fix Salty Olives.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Feeding Picky Eaters

My friend, Tammy, told me that her son is going through a finicky stage:
Image source: peterpiperpicked.com

"There are times he eats everything, and other times...he doesn't.  My son has a particular aversion to potatoes, unless they are of course Chips (French fries), so I tried to be creative and find a way to make him eat them.


He loves the game 'Mr Potato Head', so I baked a potato in the oven, a potato which matched the size of his toy, and cut up all sorts of veggies, which made up the various 'body parts' ANDDDDDDDD..... today my little one ate HALF a baked potato!!!!!! Whilst placing sliced olives as the eyes and shaped gamba (red bell pepper) for the mouth, etc."

Tammy also requested other sure-fire foods, "I thought I would share our lunchtime fun with you all,and in return, anyone who has a fun recipe that's a winner with their little ones, PLEASE SHARE!"

Monday, January 3, 2011

Best Podcasts of 2010 (PLUS Tutorial for Newbies)

Why am I sharing my favorite podcasts on my food blog?  Because while I am patiently choosing produce, chopping veggies, babysitting beans, or washing dishes, I am usually listening to my MP3 player.  Podcasts make boring chores fun.  They inspire, inform, make me laugh, or just keep me company.  I wanted to inspire you to check out a few podcasts.  If you're already a podcast veteran, please share your favorites!  I imagine my favorite podcast is still hiding out there somewhere.  This is what I'm currently listening to:

1. APM: The Splendid Table
2. WNYC's Radio Lab
3. This American Life (Chicago Public Media)
4. The Moth Podcast
5. Stuff You Missed in History Class (HowStuffWorks.com)
6. WAMU: The Diane Rehm Show
7. APM: The Story
8. Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
9. Stuff Mom Never Told You (HowStuffWorks.com)
10. NPR: Fresh Air
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