Month: October 2013

Marinated Eggplant

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marinated eggplantMy taste-buds only started becoming accustomed to eggplant in recent years. Ever since people have raved about my roasted eggplant dip recipe, I have been using eggplant more often. Fortunately for me, eggplant is popular where I live. Very few people I know will fret over eggplant. Otherwise, it has been served at every table I have eaten at. If you are looking for an easy side idea and are an eggplant lover, this recipe was intended for you. First I sliced and roasted the eggplant. Then I marinated it with balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. A bit of garlic and a few chile flakes give it plenty of flavor, making it perfect for serving alongside salads or simply spreading on crispy toasts or fresh baguette. I made marinated eggplant for a host I was eating by. Since eggplant is slowly becoming popular in the Anglo community, I was hoping there would be leftovers for me to take back and eat them with an omelet. It never happened.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 large eggplant sliced
  2. 2 bell peppers sliced
  3. 3 plum tomatoes sliced
  4. 3 cloves of garlic minced
  5. 1/2 teaspoon of chili red flakes
  6. 1 tablespoon of oregano, parsley, or basil
  7. 1/3 cup of olive oil plus more for roasting
  8. Juice from one lemon
  9. 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  10. Ground pepper

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Lay eggplant slices and pepper slices on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and ground pepper. Roast for 30 minutes or until eggplant is tender.  Once cooled, place eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes in a container. Add the remaining ingredients. Cover and let it marinate for 30 minutes. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Yields 4 servings

Sweet & Sour Asian Roast

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Asian_Beef_StewAfter boasting the success of this sweet and sour Asian roast, I promised to share a recipe. However, I am trying to fight the habit of making one-pot meals (I fail to see the problem in that) and owning a slow-cooker is making it difficult for me to resist the temptation. I was expecting company at that time and did not feel like washing a lot of baking dishes and trays. A slow cook Asian roast was a viable solution for me especially when I had to tend to more pressing matters. The weather is slowly starting to get nippy and I was in the mood for stew and less hassle. Great for entertaining large groups of people, try this no-fuss slow-cooker recipe with an infusion of vibrant Asian flavors. This delicious sweet and sour Asian roast was cooked in a slow-cooker which was a time-saver and a stress-reliever for me.  I used a cheaper cut of meat to make this Asian roast a economical and delectable meal. You can use a lean cut of beef such as flank steak, eye of round roast, or moose/bison roast. Serve this Asian roast over a bed of brown rice or rice noodles.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 4 lbs of silver roast tip or shoulder roast tip
  2. 2 onions chopped
  3. 4 cloves of garlic minced
  4. 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger minced
  5. 12 oz bag of  frozen Chinese vegetables
  6. 25 oz can of  crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
  7. 2 cups of reduced sodium beef broth
  8. 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
  9. 1/4 cup of mirin
  10. 1 tablespoon of reduced-sodium soy sauce
  11. 1 tablespoon of teriyaki sauce
  12. 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil
  13. 1/2 teaspoon of chili oil
  14. Ground pepper for seasoning

Instructions

Brown beef in a a greased skillet. Transfer to a slow-cooker. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients together. Pour over beef in the slow-cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until beef is tender. Serve hot with steamed rice.

Yields 8 servings

Toasted Quinoa with Squash and Leeks

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Despite what rumors some may have you believe, it is a verified fact that quinoa is not a grain of any kind. It is in fact a a seed of the Chenopodium, or Goosefoot plant, but is used as a grain when cooking. Packed with protein, quinoa contains every amino acid, and is particularly rich in lysine, which promotes healthy tissue growth throughout the body. It is also a good source of iron, magnesium, vitamin E, potassium, and fiber. Quinoa has been finding its way in the spotlight and is appearing in more restaurant menus and recipe sites.  Gluten-free and light, quinoa is versatile and can be served in many different ways with any ingredients of your choice. Plus, its mild taste and rich texture make it perfect for different kinds of dishes. Quinoa is most popularly served as a side dish although I have made various quinoa salads on several occasions. If you are looking to spice up your quinoa side dish with Middle Eastern flavors, I have the perfect quinoa recipe for you. I actually borrowed this recipe from a risotto recipe using quinoa instead of risotto for a lighter rendition. I also incorporated cubed squash for a semblance of Fall but pumpkin works just as well. Dried cranberries and pine nuts were used as garnish on this side dish which gives it a festive appearance. You can always omit these two ingredients if you don’t like them. Walnuts are also a cheaper alternative to pine nuts. Toasting quinoa gives it a slightly nutty taste and complements the walnut flavor (if using any). This versatile side dish pairs well with chicken, beef, or fish.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 cup of quinoa
  2. 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  3. 1 leek chopped and washed (including green parts)
  4. 1 lbs squash peeled and cut into small cubes
  5. 2 cloves of garlic minced
  6. 1 small chili pepper minced
  7. 1 teaspoon of cumin
  8. 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  9. 1/2 teaspoon of tumeric
  10. 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper
  11. 2 cups of reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  12. 3/4 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
  13. 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  14. Handful of dried cranberries
  15. 1 cup of pine nuts or walnuts (optional)

Instructions

Toast quinoa in a large dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until it crackles and becomes aromatic, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a fine sieve and rinse thoroughly.  Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leek and cook, stirring often, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add squash and cook for another 7 minutes or so. Add chile pepper and garlic; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Season with ground pepper and spices.r Add the quinoa and broth; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover and cook until the quinoa is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes. Add mint leaves, lemon juice, dried cranberries, and nuts to the quinoa. Mix gently and fluff with a fork.

 

Yields 6 servings

Individual Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cakes

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I practically live, breathe, and eat oatmeal. So does Hubby for that matter. As a matter of fact, he got me hooked on oatmeal. Up till now, I would have preferred cold cereal. Not only are oats thought to lower your cholesterol level but it keeps you fueled for a couple of hours therefore stalling your temptations for compulsive snacking (a habit that I am trying to curb). Understandably, eat oatmeal for breakfast on a daily basis can tire pretty quickly. I don’t always have the time or the energy to whip up a batch of oat pancakes or bake oat muffins. Cookies and cakes won’t cut it either. I vividly remember my mother scolding at me for eating cakes, cookies, and doughnuts for breakfast. In my defense, sometimes I am in a rush and need something on the go and I don’t have time to wait around for my oats to cook. I know. You don’t need to lecture me. I got plenty of those growing up (and still do). Laziness is never an excuse. I should learn to budget my time more wisely and put in more effort into implementing nutritious breakfast ideas. I have a oatmeal cake recipe that my mother (and hopefully most moms) will approve of. Made of rolled oats, chocolate chips, vanilla extract, milk of your choice, and oat flour, eating this oatmeal cake is like eating a warm chocolate chip cookie, with gooey, melted chocolate in every delicious bite! Better yet, there are neither eggs nor gluten making this oatmeal cake recipe gluten-free and vegan friendly.  Serve these individual cakes hot with low-fat whipped cream or yogurt.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 cup of oat flour
  2. 1/2 cup of rolled oats
  3. 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  4. 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  5. 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  6. 1/2 cup of milk of your choice
  7. 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce
  8. 1/4 cup of honey, maple syrup or agave nectar
  9. 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  10. Handful of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk the first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Combine the wet ingredients and mix in with the dry ingredients. Grease 2 ramekin cups. Distribute batter evenly in ramekins.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until firm.

Yields 2 servings

Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse

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2013-10-20 08.12.12If you already don’t know by now, chocolate mousse is one of my favorite chocolate desserts.  I always call first and last dips on chocolate mousse every time it’s served. I actually intended to make a no-bake chocolate hazelnut tart but the filling didn’t solidify to the way I wanted it to.  I’ve tried numerous ways to make chocolate mousse that is low-fat, vegan, and soy-free. And I found a way. This raw chocolate mousse recipe guarantees the airy but dense texture as in a regular chocolate mousse but without eggs and cream.  It is also very easy to make, especially if you are in a rush, and it’s not as technical. Plus you can enjoy a dessert such as this recreated chocolate mousse without the guilt. While I used hazelnuts for this vegan and soy-free chocolate mousse recipe, macadamia nuts would work as well if you don’t like hazelnuts. They do need to be soaked for a couple of hours before use. Because this is such a small recipe, it whips up best when made in a food processor. Fresh berries add fun and extra flavor to your mousse!

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 cup of hazelnuts soaked for at least 2 hours or more
  2. 2 cups of bittersweet chocolate chips
  3. 3 tablespoons of coconut or hazelnut oil (if you can’t find either, use vegetable oil)
  4. 1 large very ripe avocado
  5. 1 cup of water
  6. 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder or carob powder
  7. 1 very ripe banana
  8. 2 tablespoons honey/agave nectar/maple syrup
  9. 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  10. 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt

Instructions

Melt chocolate chips with oil and stir. Set aside to cool for a few minutes. Place the rest of the ingredients in a food processor. Process until extremely smooth. Drizzle melted chocolate as processing. Spoon mousse into individual dishes and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve with fresh berries of your choice.

Yields 4 servings

Sun-Dried Tomato Turkey Burgers

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Turkey burgers have invariably received negative feedback when eaten at events. People normally complain that they are bland and too dry therefore preferring beef burgers. Even though I enjoy a good juicy beef burger, a change of pace from time to time is appreciated. A tasty and juicy turkey burger may seem nearly impossible for some to achieve but allow me to assure you that it isn’t. The ingredients aren’t just limited to ground turkey, eggs, salt, and pepper. You can jazz up your turkey burgers up with any condiments of your choice such as BBQ sauce, chili sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, or salad dressings. I used a bit of pesto and sun-dried tomato dip. Since sun-dried tomato dip contains high sodium content, I do not recommend that you add more salt. Not only did I get a moist turkey burger but a flavorful one at that. I served 18 of those turkey burgers over the weekend. My only concern was that my guests wouldn’t leave any left for hubby and me. My prayers were answered and they were considerate enough to leave us with 2 patties :-). Portion control is also an integral part of losing weight. I suppose that a party platter perpetuates overeating. I learned two things from this turkey burger recipe: 1) Turkey burgers need no longer to be a stigma. 2) Triple the batch when having company over, even if it’s a small number of guests. If you are worried about having leftovers, you can stop fretting because there is a probability that there won’t be any.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 lbs of ground turkey
  2. 1/2 cup of cornflake crumbs
  3. 1 cup of sun-dried tomato dip
  4. 1 cup of tomato paste
  5. 1/2 cup of pesto (optional)
  6. Ground pepper for taste

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well till all ingredients are incorporated. Cover and refrigerate for an hour. Preheat grill to high. Form mixture into 8-10 patties. Brush each burger with oil. Grill the burgers until cooked through and no longer pink in the center, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Toast buns on the grill, if desired.

Yields 8-10 patties

 

Best Raw Caramel Sauce Ever

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Some of you may be scratching your heads wondering why a caramel sauce recipe is featured on my website considering that most of my recipes are health oriented whereas caramel sauce is not. I love caramel sauce. Made of sugar, butter, and heavy cream, you expect my website to be the last place to publish a caramel sauce recipe. Well, think again. You won’t need to scratch your scalp raw any further once I divulge a little secret to you. This homemade recipe consists of none of the ingredients above. I simply replaced them with medjool dates, a bit of nut butter, and agave nectar. I managed to pull off making one of the best and healthiest caramel sauces I’ve ever tasted using these ingredients. This easy caramel sauce recipe only takes seconds to make and doesn’t require any heat whatsoever. You no longer have to worry about burnt sugar stuck your pan. If you want to indulge in one of the world’s many pleasures without the guilt, try out this quick caramel sauce recipe. Making caramel sauce doesn’t need to be intimidating nor unhealthy. Warm up the caramel sauce and drizzle some of it in your hot chocolate or serve it cool as a topping for your ice cream. Dip in some apples and bananas and you have a quick, healthy snack that will make you feel that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Use it as fillings for pies, cakes, and cookies. Or you can eat it in spoonfuls by itself which I sometimes do.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1/2 cup of Medjool dates, pitted and soaked at least 30 minutes
  2. 1/2 cup of nut butter or nut spread of your choice (I used peanut butter but almond butter or hazelnut spread would work just as well)
  3. 1/4 cup of water
  4. 1/2 cup of agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup
  5. 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  6. 1/2 teaspoon of salt (do not omit this step. Just trust me)

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or a high-powered blender. Process until very smooth. Store in an airtight container or in a jar in refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Yields 1 1/2 cups

 

 

White Asparagus Salad

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2013-10-04 12.23.14This white asparagus salad recipe is an adaption of the original recipe from a friend. She used artichokes which neither hubby and I particularly care for. I used white asparagus instead and the results were just as satisfactory. White asparagus is very delicate in texture and flavor as a discovered. Asparagus is planted and covered with dirt, so the shoots retain their white color. This method requires quite a bit of manual labor to harvest and so the price of the canned white asparagus is quite a bit higher than the fresh green type you see in the produce markets (I usually prefer to use fresh produce but I cheated but I also included homemade pickles which I hope to share a recipe with you very soon). Since these spears have never been touched by sunlight, they are very soft and tender. They fall apart easily so be careful when cutting them. This salad recipe also includes pickles, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Since canned asparagus and pickles tend to be very salty, I do not recommend using ingredients or condiments with high sodium content. That is why I dress this salad with olive oil, lemon juice, and ground pepper. Spaniards consider white asparagus a delicacy and they absolutely devour it whenever it is served. This salad  pairs wonderfully with grilled fish or chicken dishes.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 lbs or 2 8 oz can of  white asparagus drained and chopped
  2. 1 8 oz carton of fresh mushrooms washed and chopped
  3. 4 tomatoes sliced
  4. 3 pickles chopped
  5. 1 small red onion chopped
  6. 1 garlic clove minced
  7. 1/3 cup of olive oil
  8. Juice from one lemon
  9. Freshly ground pepper
  10. 1 tablespoon of fresh basil chopped

Instructions

Place vegetables in a salad bowl. In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, ground pepper, minced garlic, and basil. Pour over vegetables. Lightly toss and serve.

 

Yields 4 servings

Vegan Mississippi Mud Pie

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Last week, hubby approached me with a dessert idea. In efforts to help celebrate his Southern roots, he asked me to make a Mississippi mud pie. As a chocoholic, I was more than happy to oblige to his request. I personality couldn’t give a hoot about the origins of a dish or a dessert. You won me over if it has a crud-load of chocolate (and a touch of alcohol). In fact, I am inclined to believe that the South lost the Civil War because Mississippi did not introduce its interpretation of chocolate pie to the North.  No offense to you folks from the South but you blew it by a canon shot (pardon the pun). You should have known that we Northerners have a weakness for chocolate (I only speak for those who actually do). If you were to ever to attempt to start another war with us, I suggest that you strategize a battle plan more carefully. I say this all in all good humor.

Known for being most delightful treat of the 3rd millennium, Mississippi mud pie consists of a bottom layer of brownie, a middle layer of chocolate coffee-flavored ice cream, and on top is a lite layer of vanilla cream. It is usually served with whipped cream on the side as well. Sadly, it is also known for being one of the most fattening desserts in the States. Not surprisingly, Mississippi has the highest obesity rate in the country, at 32.5%, has held this not-so-enviable title for five years in a row. Decadent dining choices, like the Mud Pie, rumored to have originated in the Magnolia State, are certainly part of the problem.  I came up with a decadent but healthier solution for a chocolate vegan chocolate pie that is almost guaranteed to be crowd-pleaser. Hubby wasn’t too thrilled with the ingredients I suggested but it didn’t make a difference to him at the end. The flavor was just as rich as it would have been if I had used eggs and heavy cream. You can enjoy my vegan Mississippi mud pie without the high calories, sugar, and fat content. Perhaps Mississippi should rethink the ingredients they use in their desserts. I kid 😉

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 9 inch graham cracker, chocolate or vanilla wafer pie shell
  2. 1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  3. 1 cup of any low-fat milk of your choice
  4. 3 tablespoons white corn syrup
  5. 1 cup of cooked white beans
  6. 1/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce
  7. 1/4 cup of coffee liquor or whiskey (optional)
  8. 1 teaspoon of vanilla

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place chocolate chips in a bowl. Set aside. Heat milk in a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer. Remove milk from heat and pour over chocolate chips. Wait a couple of minutes before  whisking them together. In the meantime, puree white beans and applesauce in a blender or food processor till smooth. Add bean mixture to the chocolate. Add coffee liquor (if using), corn syrup, vanilla, and mix well. Pour filling into pie crust and bake for Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until top is slightly crunchy and filling is set. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt or chilled.

Yield approximately 8 servings

Spinach Ricotta Kugel

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According to one of Sholem Aleichem’s tales, Tevye the Dairyman praises his wife’s cooking. Noodle kugel is one of them. He claims that if you tasted her noodle kugel you would learn the meaning of paradise on earth. Good kugel ranks among life’s best pleasures, at least where I hail from. Anyhow, I promised a spinach ricotta kugel recipe would follow. So here it is. Despite the stereotypical delusions some of you may have of me, I don’t run a typical Jewish household. That doesn’t mean that I don’t tend to my chores of keeping the house clean and making sure that hubby has something to put in his belly after a long arduous day of work. I mean to say that I don’t cook and serve the “typical Jewish food”. I know kugel is one of them but a dairy kugel usually stands out of what’s considered to be traditional.

As hard as I try to fuse traditional food with contemporary culinary delights, sometimes my efforts prove to be futile so I don’t often bother. Plus my adventurous side and curiosity (a dangerous combination) gets the better of me and I am always eager to try something new. You can only make potato kugel in so many different ways but there is always a variety of dairy kugel recipes; most of which are sweet.  Modernizing kugel is one way to make the dish more appealing to the generation of younger men and women who like to avoid what they consider heavy, fatty, old-fashioned Jewish dishes and are unafraid of new ingredients and flavors like yours truly.  This time, I present to you a spinach ricotta kugel recipe which serves well with fish and a glass of white wine. I used frozen spinach and onions but you can add any vegetables you want. I thought about throwing in some mushrooms but they were nowhere within my reach.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 8 oz of egg noodles or fine noodles
  2. 2 cups of low-fat or skim ricotta cheese
  3. 2 cups of plain low or non-fat yogurt
  4. 1 cup of skim shredded cheese divided
  5. 1 onion chopped
  6. 2 cloves of garlic minced
  7. 1 lbs package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained well
  8. 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped basil
  9. 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  10. 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne or chili powder
  11. Paprika
  12. Salt and pepper for taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook noodles until “al dente” and rinse with hot water and drain well. Set aside.  In the meantime, saute onions in a cast iron skillet over medium heat till translucent. Add garlic and saute for another two minutes. Add spinach and saute for 5-7 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, yogurt, and a 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Add noodles, herbs and vegetables and mix well. Season with salt pepper, and chili powder. Transfer mixture to a greased 9″ X 13″ baking dish. Sprinkle top with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and paprika. Bake for 45 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Yields 4-6 servings