Mediterranean Meat Pockets

Posted on

meat knishes

Hubby has had a craving for red meat. I very seldom share meat recipes because I don’t make meat dishes that often. Not because I am a vegetarian. Non-meat dishes are just more convenient for me to make but I am always willing to bend over backwards for people I love and care about. I honored Hubby’s request for a beef dish by making homemade meat pockets for him which he immensely enjoyed. Since I am about to go meatless for the next 9 days, I thought it would be appropriate to share my meat pockets pie recipe for this one last time (at least for a while).

It is a Jewish custom not to eat meat or drink wine among other things in the 9 days leading up to Tisha B’av – anniversary of the destruction of both temples as well as numerous tragedies that followed.  I may not be a vegetarian but I never complained about forgoing meat for a couple a days. In fact, I found it somewhat to be relieving. While I don’t eat meat as often as I used to, I do make special exceptions. Having overused ground beef for Shepherd’s Pie, Sloppy Joe’s, and burgers, I was in need of a different option and I settled on meat pocket pies.

Learning to cook meat pockets was not much different than making meat knishes or calzones. The concept and techniques are similar. They consist of a meat filling and a bread exterior. Only this time, I infused some  Mediterranean flavors in these homemade meat pocket pies.  As far as filling options are concerned, the sky is the limit. You can pull your own twist. I know many of you are not heavy meat eaters so a vegan option  is always available to you. Just simply swap the meat for the vegan version and you will still get a satisfying and flavorful meat pocket pie – a meatless dinner idea I would consider for the next 9 days.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. Pizza dough recipe 
  2. 1 lbs of lean ground beef
  3. 1 onion chopped
  4. 2 cloves of garlic minced
  5. 1 eggplant thinly sliced and cubed
  6. 1 zucchini thinly sliced and cubed
  7. 2 bell peppers diced
  8. 1 teaspoon of cumin
  9. 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
  10. 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  11. 1/3 teaspoon of turmeric
  12. 1/4 teaspoon of ground coriander
  13. 25 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  14. Salt and pepper for taste


Follow instructions for pizza dough recipe. Divide dough into 6-8 pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onions and saute till translucent. Add minced garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the vegetables and cook till tender. Stir in the ground beef and cook till browned and crumbly. Drain excess fat from the pan and stir in spices, salt, pepper, and crushed tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the liquid has evaporated.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll out dough pieces into discs. Fill each disc evenly with beef mixture in the center. Seal dough with opposite ends.  Arrange on baking sheets. Allow them to rise for 20 minutes or until double the size. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Bake until golden brown and hot on the inside, about 25 minutes.

Yields 6-8 large meat pocket pies





Soy-Free Vegan Raw Cheesecake

Posted on

raw cheesecake

No-fuss elegant delectable desserts are my favorite to make – no-bake desserts specifically. It’s not just because I am lazy or pressed for time (even though I frequently finding myself in these circumstances; I blame the heat). I may have used this proverbial quote before but I will reiterate it again: If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.  In my case, I can’t stand the heat but won’t let it chase me out of the kitchen. With this soy-free vegan raw cheesecake that I recently made, I remained in my kitchen without the heat.

I’ve had my fair share of raw desserts before and even made some myself. Raw cheesecake was a novelty to me, especially a soy-free version. Many people I know are not particularly fans of soy oriented dishes and desserts so I wanted to share a dessert idea that both vegans and non-vegans can compromise on and mutually enjoy. Unless you have a nut allergy, you will appreciate this raw cheesecake recipe regardless of your dietary orientation. I,  for one,  love nuts. That is why I was devastated upon recently discovering my allergies for chestnuts and pine nuts. I pray hope that more onset nut allergies won’t follow. Thankfully, I can still eat cashews, almonds, and macadamia nuts – ingredients I used in this no-bake raw cheesecake recipe.

When I served this raw cheesecake to guests, they had a hard time believing that I used nuts instead of Tofutti cream cheese. I like using cashews and macadamia nuts in my desserts primarily because they are versatile, creamy, and lovely tasting. I very seldom use macadamia nuts because they are very expensive so I alternatively used almonds instead which gave this raw cheesecake a ricotta cheesecake texture. With this raw cheesecake, it’s almost like biting into a slice of a New York style cheesecake minus the high fat content from the cream cheese and sour cream. Even a small slice is extremely satisfying and will give you a comfortable feeling of fullness without weighing your stomach down. You can enjoy a dessert that is equally exquisite, rich and gourmet without tacking on the extra calories. If you enjoyed my nut cream recipe, you will rave over this raw cheesecake recipe.  Hassle-free and easy to make, this soy-free, no-bake vegan raw cheesecake is perfect for beginners consisting of only 6 ingredients excluding the pie crust! This recipe is practically fool-proof. In fact, I will be very impressed if you manage to screw this recipe up.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. Prepared pie crust
  2. 2 1/2 – 3 cups of cashews, macadamia, or blanched almonds
  3. 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  4. 1/2 cup of pure mayple syrup, agave nectar or honey
  5. 1/2 cup of coconut butter melted
  6. Juice and zest  from 1 lemon
  7. 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  8. 1/4 cup of water plus more for soaking nuts


Cover nuts in a bowl and let it soak for 8-12 hours or overnight. Drain. Combine all the ingredients for the cheese filling a food processor or blender and process for 6 minutes or until completely smooth. Pour contents into prepared pie crust then cover and freeze till ready to use. Remove cheescake from freezer 5 minutes before serving. Store in freezer up till 2 weeks.

Yields 8 servings


Oven Baked Chicken Fire Poppers

Posted on

fire poppers

As the weather gets hotter, so does my appetite for spicy food. The craving for spicy chicken nuggets or any chicken with a spicy ingredient has been tormenting me for weeks until I finally capitualted when I decided that fighting my hankerings is a losing battle. Only this one time have I decided not to cry over this big defeat. Who can resist these bite sized yumminess? The tingling flavors from the hot sauce always have me in a headlock. I grew up on chicken nuggets. They were a favorite as well as one of the most popularly ordered appetizer on the menu. The piquant flavors from the hot sauce and honey is what makes these chicken nuggets popping – that is how they were dubbed chicken fire poppers.  Each bite is explosive but not overwhelming. You couldn’t expect a more perfect balance of flavors. I made sure to make and pack extras for our journey through Europe to America.

This chicken nugget recipe is inspired by a similar recipe using chicken wings. Since chicken breasts are a healthier option, I went with them instead. I also oven baked these nuggets rather than deep frying them. You can achieve the crispy exterior without using copious amounts of oil. A greasy mess is the last thing I need. The only danger factor that lies within these chicken fire poppers is that they are extremely addictive – once you start, it’s hard to finish. Delicious doesn’t even begin to describe these chicken fire poppers. Forget the main course. A basketfull of these spicy chicken nuggets is a meal unto itself but not complete without a salad.  I normally have my limits but I bear no shame for my addiction to chicken fire poppers. I suppose it’s a good thing that I show enough restraint not to make them very often. These chicken fire poppers are a new favorite appetizer in my household and that is why I save this chicken nugget recipe for special occasions.  I nearly forgot to mentionthat these tender chicken nuggets are easy to make.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 1/2 – 2 lbs of chicken breasts cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  2. 1/2 cup of hot sauce
  3. 1/4 cup of honey
  4. 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  5. 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour or corn starch
  6. 1 cup of panko bread crumbs or cornflakes
  7. 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  9. 1/3 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  10. 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a bowl, whisk hot sauce, honey, and soy sauce. In another bowl, combine breadcrumbs/cornflakes with garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Dredge chicken pieces in cornstarch/flour. Then dunk them in hot sauce mixture. Coat them with breadcrumbs/cornflakes. Line nuggets evenly on a greased baking sheet. To get a crunchy topping, spray nuggets with cooking spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Yields 4-6 servings




Stone Fruit Slaw

Posted on

fruit salad

Tis the season to be overheated, sunburned, lounging at the beach, vacationing, and barbecuing. While my tolerance for intense humidity is very low, the summertime does offer many advantages.  Although the 4th of July may have passed through, it’s never too late for a barbecue.  And by that, I mean bbq salad ideas among other things. A lot of my neighbors tend to hold barbecues on a regular basis for no particular reason. Of all the barbeques I’ve attended in the past, I very seldom see fruit salad being served. When I was searching for bbq fruit salad ideas, a stone fruit slaw recipe lit up on my radar screen.

Stone fruit consists of peaches, nectarines, plums, and apricots. There can be more than one variety from each fruit on the one tree; each variety ripens at different times depending on the season. There are trees with varieties of fruit that are more suited for warm climates with other varieties for colder weather. Stone fruit tends to be at their peak during the summertime. That is what prompted me to make a stone fruit salad.  Not only was I in need of something to balance out my intake of meat but a stone fruit salad seemed like a very refreshing idea to me.  With a tangy orange ginger honey vinaigrette and chopped toasted almonds, this stone fruit slaw recipe offers some added elegance to the everyday fruit salad. While it nornally makes a nice light lunch or dinner appetizer on its own, you can top this slaw with sliced chicken breast to make it more substantial. You can even toss in some goat cheese if you like.

While this fruit salad may seem gourmet, it is not labor intensive in the slightest.  Although the thought of grilling fruit did cross my mind but my laziness interfered with the execution of the idea. No need to fire up a grill to gussy up some fruit salad – just orange ginger honey vinaigrette (which takes seconds to make) tossed in with julienned stone fruit and you are all set.  Plus it’s a great way to encourage kids to include more fruit in their diet. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme or chopped fresh basil with a pinch of salt and chill for a bit before serving and you are ready to kick off your barbeque.


For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 1/2 lbs of assorted ston fruit julienned
  2. 2 scallions thinly sliced diagonally
  3. Juice from a small orange
  4. 1 tablespoon of grated peeled fresh ginger
  5. 2 tablespoons of honey
  6. 1 tablespoon of olive or vegetable oil
  7. 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  8. 1/4 teaspoon of curry powder
  9. Toasted chopped almonds or peanuts (optional)
  10. Salt and pepper for taste


Place fruit in a salad bowl and scallions. Whisk orange juice, ginger, honey, oil, and spices in a small bowl till well combined. Toss in with fruit and lightly coat. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in nuts before serving if you like.

Yields 4-6 servings



Cherry Mango Smoothie

Posted on

cherry mango smoothie

I would like to begin this post with an apology for my long absence. A lot has transpired over the past two weeks – thankfully for better reasons than worse. From a family wedding to a recent engagement of a friend, 4th of July and a family reunion plus more. I haven’t had much time for blogging.  Despite the political and regional tensions where I live, nothing can stop me from delighting yourselves with my recipes. I thank you for your support and patience. I hope this healthy smoothie recipe I am about to share with you was worth the wait. I promise that more recipes will follow shortly.

Fresh cherries and mango happen to be at their peak this season. I stocked up on a bunch of fresh cherries and mango. I normally prefer to munch on cherries as they are but occasionally explore other creative options that I can use with them. I had many ideas in terms of treats that I can make using these fruits but I was stalling for too long and they were beginning to rot. It’s hard for me to dispose of fresh fruit, so smoothies were a simple, quick yet delicious solution to my dilemna.

What other healthy and exotic way to cool an overheated palate other than learning how to make smoothies using cherries and fruit? I could never tire of smoothies; the combination of possibilities never end.  I never incorporated cherries into my smoothies before but didn’t think of it as a risk factor. Adding cherries introduces a sweet yet tangy flavor this red mango smoothie. The mango merely heightens the taste of this smoothie.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 fresh or frozen mango cubed
  2. 1 cup of fresh or frozen cherries seeded
  3. 1/3 cup of fresh or canned pineapple chunks
  4. 1/2 cup of low fat plain yogurt of your choice


Place all ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Add more water or milk if the smoothie is too thick for your liking. Use leftovers for popsicles if you like.

Yields 2 servings




The Case of Lazy Summer

Posted on

lazy dog

I normally would feature a recipe but I’ve decided to turn the tables around here and let people share their summer recipes ideas on my blog. Not because I don’t have ideas of my own. With an upcoming wedding, family reunion, social gatherings, flying across several continents, time pressing projects,  and social gatherings that I have attended, I wasn’t able to squeeze any time to fit blogging in my schedule. No, I have not forgot about you or my blog. I was also feeling tired as heat does have an impact my laziness and lack of motivation.   As my mother says, “Temperature is inversely proportional to my desire to move”. My tolerance for heat is very low. Nonetheless, I accomplish nothing from shirking from my responsibilities. I suppose my commitment, conviction, and determination is what’s keeping me fueled.

We all need a break from time to time. So do I. Rather than searching and publishing summer recipes today, some of my friends lent me great summer recipe ideas that are easy and most importantly, don’t require much usage of heat. The kitchen is the last place I want to be during the summer but cold soups, ice cream and smoothies isn’t necessarily going to cut it for me nor will it for my family. Cooking never takes a summer vacation. There are still bellies to fill and palates to satisfy.

I was in need of low carb lunch recipes and an acquaintance recommended this Coca-Cola chicken wings recipe.  As delicious as it is easy, preparation only requires 20 minutes of your time.  I have eaten coca-cola chicken before but I am intrigued by this recipe. I am a sucker for chicken wings or finger food for that matter. They are just convenient and easy to eat.   I may try them out for my July 4th barbecue.  Another person lend me his Zucchini Pizza Boat recipe which would be ideal for a Meatless Monday dinner. I love the idea, simplicity, and creativity behind using zucchini instead of pizza dough.  This recipe not only makes for a healthy dinner idea but it’s perfect for incorporating more vegetables in your kids diets.

Sometimes my schedule takes over my life and I don’t always have the time nor the energy to whip up gourmet nutritious meals. Take-out meals are not an option for me as tempting as they may seem. That is why this bake curried cauliflower quinoa recipe is ideal. As the contributor to this recipe puts it, it’s gluten-free, vegan, and full of detoxifying turmeric and white vegetables, which are great for keeping your immune system healthy. Stuffed vegetables seem to be the latest rave and I am itching to give this unbelievably easy stuffed vegetables recipe  a try. No meal is complete without a dessert. These easy no-fail gluten-free chewy chocolate almond hazelnut cookies   are a great way to conclude a heavy meal.


Roasted Asparagus with Tomatoes and Mushrooms

Posted on

oven roasted asparagus

I initially intended to make roasted asparagus to be served as a side dish along with wheat berries. I won’t go into the gross details as to why I aborted that idea. Let’s just say I had a disgusting awakening by some intruders who already claimed the wheat berries for themselves. What a shame and a waste of wheat berries. Anyhow, grossing you out while trying to enamor my oven roasted asparagus recipe seems counterproductive so I shall proceed to share the more appetizing aspect of it 🙂

Roasting is my favorite method of cooking vegetables, not the least which is the oh so glorious, green asparagus. For starters, roasting asparagus is a lot easier than steaming them. Asparagus takes minutes to cook and therefore is more vulnerable to being overcooked. Secondly, roasting asparagus deepens the flavor and brings out the vegetables’ inherited sweetness. Moreover, if you have been notified about last minute company, this side dish only takes 12 minutes to prepare therefore minimizing the stress factor. Lastly, it can be served on its own or used in a number of side dishes.

Due to the wheat berry incident, I threw in some mushrooms and cherry tomatoes to the mix. The more, the merrier. But the key to mastering the culinary art of cooking asparagus is not to overthink it. Preparation is not taxing in the least.  The thicker the asparagus is, the better is it for roasting – it won’t dissolve into a pile of mush.  My choices for seasonings are salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, olive oil, and a bit of lemon juice. This lovely platter of oven roasted asparagus makes a delicious addition to any holiday table.  Leftovers can be tossed in with pasta, salad, or in any grains. You can throw in some chicken or cheese and create a meal out if it.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 lbs of asparagus rinsed thoroughly and ends trimmed
  2. 1 lbs of mushrooms washed and rinsed
  3. 1 lbs of cherry tomatoes stems removed
  4. 1 onion thinly sliced
  5. 2-3 cloves of garlic minced
  6. 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  7. 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  8. Salt and pepper for taste



Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lay vegetables out in a single layer in a baking dish or cookie sheet. In a small bowl, whisk olive oil , garlic, salt and pepper. Drizzle evenly over vegetables.  Roast for 8-12 minutes depending on the thickness of your asparagus until lightly browned and tender. Drizzle with lemon juice before serving.

Yields 4 servings