Fish and Slaw

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 This dish is much prettier than how I lazily titled this post (not sure why I crapped out here on creativity). It’s a fantastic lunch or dinner for warm weather. Crisp, colorful slaw is gorgeous on the eyes, fresh in the mouth, and is the perfect accompaniment to a cleanly sautéed or grilled piece of fish. I used Dorado here but I leave that to you. I love making salads that are bright, beautiful, and light. I never make creamy or thick dressings because I don’t eat them. The idea of mayo on a salad makes me 🤢. Most of the Lady Blaga dressings are similar vinaigrette’s since that’s how I cook and eat. I’d never drown a salad, it’s just not appealing to me. This was a delight to put together, fun to plate, and even better to eat.

For the salad:

A bag of shredded purple cabbage

Half a bag of shredded carrots

Two handfuls of white bean sprouts

A handful of golden raisins

A couple of handfuls of dried soybeans for crunch and texture- Relax, I wore gloves.

Half a cup of packed, chopped flat leaf parsley and a third of a cup of julienned fresh mint leaves. Mint in a salad is always a winner. 

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

For the dressing; a third of a cup each extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice, three tbsp apple cider vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk well and gently toss over the dressing. Set aside or plate, then cook the fish. I bought two dorado fillets, skin on. I seasoned the non skin side with salt and peeper. I heated a large skillet with a couple tbsp of olive oil and let it heat very well. I placed the fish skin side down, let it cook 3 to 4 minutes until the skin was crisped, flipped it carefully, then cooked the other side over lower heat until golden brown. Serve a piece of fish alongside the slaw for a lovely, healthy, complete meal. You can totally make this into fish tacos using soft tortillas and guacamole.

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Rose’ Fruit Salad

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Easiest. Summer. Dessert. Ever. This was a last minute addition to our most recent food shoot. I was frantically trying to prep all my recipes, and the fire department had just showed up since apparently I forgot how to make toast. I like to be as efficient as possible during these shoots. Squeezing in as many recipes as possible is clearly ideal.

The night before I had bought some summer stone fruit for my son. He loves peaches, apricots, and plums. I love them too and it’s joyful each time they reappear at the market. I knew I had a bottle of Rose’ chilling in the fridge and voila; what’s faster and fresher than having some gorgeous fruit soak in some wine? This is the perfect light dessert for anyone who needs to end each meal on a sweet note, like this girl right here. Most fruits should work but the combo I threw together was perfect.

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I used a large white peach sliced, two apricots sliced, blackberries, blueberries, and two blood oranges cleaned and separated into segments.

I gently tossed them with 3 tbsp of Rose’, covered the bowl in plastic wrap, and chilled in the fridge for 30 minutes. I’d say do this for Max an hour so the fruit doesn’t get soggy. Add an extra tbsp of the wine if you want it stronger, but I liked how the 3 tbsp were there yet subtle; the fruit is so delicious on its own. Divide gently into little white bowls and garnish each with one perfect whole mint leaf.  People, summer is finally here.

Healthy carrot cake

INGREDIENTS

  • Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups packed super fine blanched almond flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)

  • ½ cup coconut flour (do not pack)

  • ½ cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut (I use Bob’s Red Mill)

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Wet ingredients

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup

  • 1/3 cup drippy tahini

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/3 cup melted and cooled coconut oil

  • 3 cups shredded carrots (medium grate)

  • Optional mix-ins:

  • ½ cup raisins

  • ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts

  • For the frosting:

  • ½ cup salted butter, at room temperature (or sub vegan buttery stick)

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (or sub dairy free cream cheese)

  • 3 cups powdered sugar

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk (any milk will work)

  • For the topping:

  • Extra pecans and shredded coconut

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of three 6-inch round cake pans or two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper rounds. Spray parchment paper and sides of pan with nonstick cooking spray. YOU SHOULD USE PARCHMENT PAPER or the cake is likely to stick. Please do not forget.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk the almond flour, coconut flour, unsweetened shredded coconut, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together. Set aside.

  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pure maple syrup, tahini, almond milk, vanilla extract until smooth. Slowly whisk in the melted and cooled coconut oil until it’s well incorporated, the stir in the carrots. Note: It is important that your eggs are at room temperature otherwise the coconut oil with coagulate. The coconut oil should be melted but not HOT, but rather closer to room temp.

  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined. Stir in raisins and nuts, if using.

  5. Divide batter evenly between pans and spread out with a spatula to smooth the tops. Bake for 22-32 minutes in the two 8-inch pans and 30-40 minutes for three 6-inch pans.

  6. Cakes are done when a tester comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting or removing from the pans. The cake should be room temperature when you frost it. This is very important. Cakes can be made a day ahead if you’d like.

  7. Make your frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the softened butter and cream cheese and whip on high until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk and beat for 2-3 minutes more.

  8. Now it’s time to frost the cake: place about 1 tablespoon down onto onto the cake stand and spread out. Invert cake onto the cake stand, add about ½ heaping cup frosting between each layer, repeat with each cake, then frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Decorate cake with pecans and shredded coconut on top. Once you are done frosting, place the cake to the fridge. Cake will stay good for 5-7 days in the fridge, and should be covered to ensure freshness. Serves 16.

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CHICKPEA SALAD WITH PESTO

Ingredients

  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and well rinsed

  • 1 cup finely diced bell peppers, assorted colors

  • 1/2 cup thin sliced Persian cucumber (these are the small ones,) do not peel

  • 1/2 cup small mozzarella pearls

  • 1/2 cup halved or quartered cherry tomatoes, assorted colors

  • 1/3 cup quartered small radishes

  • 1/3 cup diced black olives

  • 1/4 cup finely minced red onion

  • fresh cracked black pepper

  • pesto dressing (this will make more than you need, use the rest on pasta!)

  • 2 large handfuls fresh basil leaves and part of the stems

  • 1 small garlic clove, smashed and peel removed

  • juice of 1/2 lemon

  • a good grating of fresh Parmesan (as much or as little as you like)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, give or take

  • salt to taste

  • garnish

  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (toast in a little olive oil in a skillet for several minutes, stirring constantly until they turn nutty brown.)

  • lemon wedges

Instructions

  1. Put the drained, rinsed, and dried chickpeas in a large salad bowl along with the rest of the salad ingredients.

  2. To make the pesto dressing, process the basil, garlic, and lemon briefly until it breaks down into a thick paste. Add the cheese and enough olive oil to make a loose pourable consistency. Add salt to taste, and more cheese, and/or lemon if you like.

  3. Toss the salad with just enough pesto to thoroughly coat everything. Serve topped with the toasted pine nuts, a good grinding of fresh cracked pepper, and accompanied by a couple of lemon wedges.

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Ruth Gans Mayer Dairy Apple Crumble

Ingredients:

2 lbs. granny smith apples, cored, peeled, and sliced

1/4 cup apple cider

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 cup butter

Pinch of salt

Directions:

Heat oven to 350. In a 2 qt casserole, combine apples and cider.

Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg in a bowl.

Cut butter until crumbly. Spread sugar topping over apples and butter pieces on top.

Bake for 40-45 min.

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

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Whole Matzoh Matzoh Balls

This recipe is perfect for Passover, but is special because of who it comes from. I have a very meaningful cookbook called the Holocaust Survivor Cookbook. It’s recipes compiled by living survivors or their relatives. This book is rich in Eastern European history and contains stories both heartbreaking and hopeful. To think of the millions of Jewish cooks and homes that were mercilessly destroyed by the Nazis makes me weep. But it’s books like these that keep the flames burning. It’s a direct connection to the love these Jewish mamas poured into feeding their families. Before giving us the recipes, the book tells us much about the survivors who made them. Wonderful tales, memories, and anecdotes, as well as photos from before and after the War, grace the pages of this most important compilation.

This particular recipe is from Ruth Gans Mayer and was submitted by her daughter. Ruth was a prisoner of the concentration camps for five years. Her mother took her place in the gas chambers. She lost her parents, siblings, a husband, and a child. I can’t even believe we live in a world where this happened. I have heard about gas chambers my entire life due to my own grandparents being survivors. I get chills every time. Those words are simply sickening. Ruth was from Germany and was a pharmacist there. She settled in Ohio after the War. She was a single mother to her only child, which was very rare in the 40’s. Her daughter generously shares her recipes in this precious book. Ruth still lives on. Each of us who cooks her food keeps her alive in our own small way. If you make these delicious, traditional matzoh balls, please think of Ruth, all she endured, and her will to persevere.

Ingredients:

6 pieces matzo broken in half

6 tablespoons unsalted parve margarine

1 medium onion, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

4 large eggs

8 tablespoons matzo meal

Directions:

Place matzo in a large bowl and cover with water. Heat the margarine in frying pan and cook onion until clear. Add salt and pepper. Drain matzo and press matzo against strainer to squeeze out all the water you can. Add drained matzo to pan (it will break in pieces). Cook about 5 minutes to heat through. Transfer to bowl and let cook for 15 minutes. Stir in eggs and a few tablespoons of matzo meal. Add more matzo meal as necessary to form mixture into balls. They should be thick enough to hold their shapes but not clumpy. Refrigerate for one hour. Drop the balls into 5-6 quarts salted boiling water. They will sink to the bottom and then rise while they cook. Turn down simmer, cover and let them cook for about 20-25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove and place them in hot chicken soup.

Makes about 15-16 balls.


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Best No Carb French Toast

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What a treat it is to have guilt free French toast after decades of avoiding it. At most, I’d pick at some here and there, only to regret it later. Which sounds crazy and vain because it kind of is. But as a woman who has been watching her weight for awhile like most gals I know, it’s just part of the deal to think like that. A treat is really fine every so often, but it too often comes attached to feelings of guilt and self loathing after. Nothing terrible, just that general feeling where you cancel out any enjoyment you may have gotten from indulging in the first place. This whole thing is such a bummer, am I right?? Which is why this recipe is so exciting. I can eat delicious French toast while fully enjoying it due to zero guilt. I make it using this no carb, high fiber bread from Thin Slim Foods. I found this whole trolling on Instagram. Each slice has 45 calories, which is nothing, 7 grams of carbs and 7 grams of fiber. The fiber cancels out the carbs, netting zero. One slice also has 7 grams of protein and 0 sugar. SUCH. A. WIN.

For this recipe I use:

Two slices Thin Slim Foods bread

One egg beaten and mixed with a cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (your favorite milk will do)

Two tablespoons of Lily’s chocolate chips (optional)

Some mixed berries (I usually use raspberries and blackberries)

Choc Zero maple syrup. The syrup totally tastes like regular syrup.   

Directions:

Heat a frying pan with nonstick spray. I’ll add a couple of teaspoons of melted light coconut butter to add a slight buttery taste. Mix the egg and milk together well in a bowl. Soak both sides of each bread slice well in the mixture. Fry each side several minutes until golden brown. Sometimes I’ll sprinkle some cinnamon on the upside of the slice that’s browning. Plate the French toast, sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. They’ll get nice and melty. Drizzle syrup on top. I love to fork most of the bites with a berry. I don’t think I need to explain why this is so delicious! Healthy, guilt free breakfast has never looked or tasted better. It’s seriously about time; if I made one more egg white omelet I was going to lose my mind .

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Cous Cous Fig Tart

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The words “cous cous” and “desert” are most certainly not an obvious pairing. I came across this idea in a macrobiotic cookbook that I don’t recall buying. I love looking through cookbooks to get inspired for new recipes. I add, tweak, and make it my own. It’s easier to do that with cooking. Baking, however, requires stricter adherence to measurements since it’s more of a science. In my recent quest to come up with healthier desert alternatives, I was intrigued by making a tart crust out of whole wheat cous cous. This recipe has zero flour or refined sugar. It’s truly a guilt free indulgence. It’s satisfying and filling since the crust is legit, but it’s clean. Cooking the cous cous in apple juice gives it a wonderful sweetness. I love the look of halved fresh figs. Any sliced fruit can top this though. I think the cookbook used peaches. I added more ingredients to my version but kept it vegan. It was a crap shoot but came out delicious. I probably shouldn’t say “crap” when writing up a recipe... 

You’ll need:

3 cups good quality apple juice.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat cous cous ( the tiny kind, not the pearled pasta kind).

1/4 cup melted coconut oil.

2 tbsp ground flax meal. Flax meal has many health benefits, including lowering cholesterol and increasing fiber intake. It was a no brainer to add some here.

1/2 a cup of good jam, such as apricot, peach, plum, or raspberry. I used apricot. I liked the color contrast with the purple figs.

A container of fresh figs, sliced in half lengthwise.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a ten inch springform pan with removable bottom well with non stick spray. Set aside.

Prepare the cous cous with the apple juice instead of water according to package directions. After it’s done, Mix with the flax meal and coconut oil to make the crust. 

Meanwhile, mix the jam with 1/4 cup of water in a small pot. Bring to a boil and let simmer on low for several minutes until the jam thins out. Let cool. Pat the cous cous down into the spring from pan firmly to form the crust. Spread half the cooled jam onto the top leaving an inch border.

Arrange the figs artfully (or not) on top. Pour the rest of the jam on top to set the figs. Press whichever sliced fruit you’re using gently into the crust before the second jam pouring. Bake until the Tart is set and a tester comes out clean. about 45 minutes. Every oven is different. I’d start checking after 35 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.

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Polenta and Marsala Mushrooms 🍄

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This dish was perfect for me. I haven’t eaten meat or chicken in about a year and a half, and one of my fave chicken dishes evah was Chicken Marsala. I love the rich earthiness of the mushrooms, the Marsala wine, and the savory onions and garlic all simmered together. Fresh thyme is always a must for me when working with these flavors. It’s pops the grounded feeling of the other components. Literally, mushrooms are so of the earth, so an above ground fresh herb works nicely here. These mushrooms would top any protein beautifully, even eggs, but I stayed vegan here by using polenta. Polenta cooks so quickly, is hearty, natural, and has that lovely yellow color. It’s visually appealing mush. This was the perfect lunch to serve to the crew at our last photo shoot. It makes a great main or appetizer.

Ingredients:

Four cups of vegetable stock (one box)

One cup quick cooking polenta

1 tbsp truffle oi

Two tbsp extra virgin olive oil

One tbsp packed fresh thyme leaves (just slide the leaves down off the stems)

Half a cup Marsala wine

12 to 16 oz of mixed exotic mushrooms such as Cremini/oyster/shiitake

One medium onion halved then sliced very thin

Three garlic cloves sliced very thin length wise

Prepare polenta according to package directions using the vegetable stock. In a large sauté pan, heat the oils. Add the onions and sauté until fragrant and translucent. Deglaze with additional tablespoons of extra Marsala wine or vegetable stock as needed. Don’t let the pan dry out. Add the garlic and cook for another two minutes. Add the mushrooms, salt to taste (I’d say a tsp),stir, then add the half cup of Marsala. Sauté until all is blended together really well and most of the wine has evaporated. Add the thyme and let it do its thing for several minutes on a low flame. Divide the polenta into bowls and top with the mushroom mixture. Garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme if you care .

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Shake It Off 🍫🥜🍌

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Good morning! I started making this protein breakfast shake for my daughter every night, for her to take to school in the morning. She grabs it and goes. It’s a snap to make and doesn’t liquify and get gross overnight. I make it in the NutriBullet, but I’m sure a regular blender will work too.

You’ll need:

A ripe banana

A cup of unsweetened chocolate almond milk

A scoop of chocolate protein powder. The powder is a fraction of the fat and calories of regular peanut butter with the same yummy peanut butter taste. I also add a generous squirt of NuNatural sugar free chocolate syrup.

PB fit powder

Blend well. If making for two just increase the almond milk to a cup and a half. The milk and protein powder can also easily be swapped for vanilla flavor. Protein, potassium, all natural sugar, the benefits of almond milk (or the milk of your choice),all blended together for a creamy chocolate peanut butter banana shake. Talk about a delicious, healthy, super fast way to start your day🏼. No doubt you’ll have to shake stuff off over the next 24 hours, that’s just life. But proper nutrition fortifies us so we can greet life healthy and stronger.

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GG Crust Quiche 🌶🥕

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 Kids, I think we have another GG Jesscipe on our hands! How nice is it to eat a guilt free piece of quiche in its entirety?? Not having to scrape the filling out or eliminate the crust entirely. It’s about time. While on this new kick I’m on to develop clean, healthy, low carb, low sugar recipes that feel somewhat like the real thing, I played around with what GG crumbs can do. Granted this was my first shot here, but this crust came out well. My first goal was to make sure the crust stayed together and didn’t give out under the filling. Crumble/collapse free. To my delight, this recipe held up and sliced perfectly into even squares. These are GG crackers; don’t expect them to taste like a flaky, buttery pie crust. I’m not reinventing the wheel, just repurposing it. Play around with your favorite quiche filling, or experiment with making this crust into individual mini quiches. Maybe add finely chopped fresh herbs to the mixture if you’d like (I’d go with parsley or sage). This recipe yields a lot of crust. I used a large 9x13. It was about three quarters of an inch thick. How much you use is up to you, but I wanted you to have the options of making two smaller quiches for variety, or minis. You’ll need; a 9x13 glass baking dish sprayed with non stick spray.

Two packs original GG crackers

Half a cup almond flour

3 egg whites

Half a cup of avocado oil

Half a cup of water

Large onion

2 boxes of frozen chopped spinach

2 boxes of frozen chopped broccoli

Two tbsp ground flax meal

One tbsp country Dijon mustard

2 tsp garlic powder

A quarter cup of finely chopped parsley

1 and a half tsp salt

Half a tsp pepper

A bag and a half of shredded cheese of your choice

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Pulse crackers to coarse crumbs in a food processor. Add other ingredients, adding more oil or water as needed to moisten. Add by the tbsp. Mix until combined. Press crust firmly into bottom and sides of the pan.

Filling: a large white onion, diced and sautéed until fragrant and translucent, two boxes of frozen chopped spinach defrosted and well drained, two boxes of frozen chopped broccoli defrosted. One tbsp country Dijon mustard, 2 tsp garlic powder, a quarter cup of finely chopped parsley, 1 and a half tsp salt, half a tsp pepper, a bag and a half of shredded cheese of your choice, and  two eggs. Mix all ingredients well, pour on crust, and bake about 45 minutes until the cheese starts to turn golden brown. Mini quiches would use less cooking time, check every couple of minutes after 25 minutes.

GG Chocolate Raspberry Tart

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 This is one of those Jesscipes that I’m super pumped about. It’s one of those awesome “I was futzing around my kitchen and struck gold” kind of ideas. In my recent effort to shave off a few unwelcome pounds, I started with the GG cracker shtick. I’m not on any specific diet, and I generally think those crazy strict nutrition plans are very fear based. Sensible, clean eating is key. That’s really all we need. We don’t have to make ourselves crazy, and we absolutely can responsibly indulge. It’s not so fun to count every calorie, ask others for approval for what we put into our mouths, and berate ourselves for eating too much one day. It’s all ok, it just is. Let’s remove the stress out of food; food is wonderful! That being said, while indulging in dessert tastes good in the moment, it sucks to carry around any mental baggage that may come attached to eating it. Women unfortunately tend to beat ourselves up over stuff like this. That’s why it’s important we find cleaner, healthier sweets that are guilt free. Don’t be deprived or hangry; it’s no way to live. Make this delicious dessert instead! I’d so love your feedback on this one, and would you like to see more recipes like this on the blog? To those of you who text me when you cook something off the blog, or send me pics, I’m so grateful to contribute to feeding your families! Thanks for letting me know, it warms my heart. This tart will delight your palette with its rich flavors while not contributing to any misplaced self hatred or body dysmorphia. Enjoy, Peeps. You work hard, so hard. Please treat yourself and know you deserve it.

Ingredients:

A lightly sprayed tart pan or springform pan with a removable bottom.

2 packs honey GG crackers

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

1 tbsp of smooth almond butter

1/3 cup of melted coconut oil

3 tbsp of sugar free maple syrup by Choc Zero

Lily’s chocolate chips

Raspberries

Preheat oven to 325. In a food processor, pulse two whole packs of honey GG crackers into crumbs. Add 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder, 1 tbsp of smooth almond butter, a 1/3 cup of melted coconut oil, and 3 tbsp of sugar free maple syrup by Choc Zero (I’m guessing agave would work fine too). Pulse until well combined.

Press the mixture firmly into the tart pan and up the sides half an inch. Bake for ten minutes to set the crust. Set aside to cool.

Melt a cup of Lily’s chocolate chips in the microwave for a minute. Spread the melted chocolate on the cooled, firm crust with a spatula. Top with fresh raspberries, gently pressing on the berries to get them to stay.

Cover and freeze until all is firm. Thaw about 45 minutes to an hour before serving. Note; I noticed that after being left out two to three hours, the chocolate was still hard but the crust began to crumble. The bottom crust remained intact but the little fluted edge was apparently more fragile. Just something to keep in mind. This tart sliced really nicely into triangles, but you’ll need a sharp knife to press down firmly. The raspberries totally stayed on, which was my only concern. So there you have it; a delicious, rich dessert that’s packed with fiber and protein. Zero refined sugar, zero flour. 15 minutes of prep time. Enjoy!!!!

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Fig and Grape Salad 💜🍇

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I tried in vain to come up with a catchy title for this unbelievable salad, but alas. Can’t win ‘em all, and the focus here is just to eat it, right? When I posted stories from this last shoot, the feedback came pouring in begging for this recipe. I’ve been psyched to finally share this Jesscipe with the Squad. The element of the fruit gives this mucho substantive salad a freshness and sweetness. It’s a great injection of joy into a season full of heavier winter fare. There’s a lot of shades of purple happening; fresh figs, red grapes, purple onions, crisp radicchio, and a fig infused dressing that has the base of a blended purple juice. Toasted walnuts add delicious flavor, crunch, and texture. Golden raisins drive this home, adding another color and texture element, as well as  more sweetness. I was taken aback by how magnificent the final result was. It tasted even better then it presented, and made for a wonderful lunch for me and Gabe, my super photographer. That’s the best part about shoot days; the crew gets to be my first tasters. I even packed up leftovers and sent them home with everyone since I’m a Bubbie at .

Ingredients:

Four cups of fresh baby spinach leaves

Two cups of red grapes halved width wise

16 oz fresh ripe figs halved length wise

8 oz toasted walnuts (toasted by gently stirring over a medium flame in a dry skillet until densely fragrant)

A cup of golden raisins

One finely diced red onion

A head of shredded radicchio

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And fresh mint leaves should you be so inclined (never a bad idea).

Dressing:

Half a cup of extra virgin olive oil

Half a cup of a purple juice such as pomegranate. I used a blended version of pomegranate, tart cherry, blueberry, and  grape.

3 tbsp fig infused balsamic vinegar. Can use regular balsamic too if that’s what you already have at home (do NOT make yourself crazy!).

A tsp salt and half a tsp pepper.

Whisk dressing together well. Combine all the salad ingredients and lightly dress, artfully arranging extra nuts, figs, and mint on top. Drizzle more dressing on top. This looked gorgeous on a white, rimmed platter. The colors popped stunningly against the white. Bright green, deep purple, and nutty brown coming together to jazz up your menu. Omg, there’s my title; Deep Purple. Ok, breathe, Gurl. I knew I could do it somehow.


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Composed Mediterranean Salad

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This is one of those beautiful, show stopping salads that can be the center of a meal. Eliminate the cheese to make it vegan, or use nut based cheese. With a soup and some warm bread, this dish is one and done. It’s large and can easily be a main course for four. I made it up based on these adorable mini Indian  that were whispering to me in the supermarket. I’d never seen eggplants so small, and I’m a sucker for anything mini. I wasn’t planning of “composing” the salad into rows for serving, but the ingredients were just all so beautiful and colorful in their own right. I decided to showcase them by lining them up on a bed of dressed greens. It’s a fun way to have guests serve themselves, and a nice change from a salad that’s already jumbled together.

Ingredients:

A dozen mini Indian eggplants.

Two cups julienned sun dried tomatoes (I cut mine lengthwise into thirds).

A bunch of fresh basil.

Two can pitted green or kalamata olives halved width wise.

A cup of baby kale leaves per person, using at least two.

Three cups of cooked brown lentils, cooked according to package directions. Two is fine if you’re serving three or less.

A cup or bunch of chopped scallions.

A container of feta cheese, pearled, crumbled, or cubed.

Directions:

Cook lentils and set aside.

Preheat your broiler. Cut the eggplants lengthwise and put in a tin pan. Drizzle with olive oil and rub with a light sprinkling of salt, pepper, smoked or regular paprika, dried oregano and cumin. Use your judgement with the seasoning, keeping in mind that the dressing will add a lot of flavor. Broil the eggplants cut side up until slightly blackened and a deep golden brown. Test to ensure fork tenderness. Prep all other ingredients and keep in their own bowls.

Dressing;

3/4 each fresh lemon juice and olive oil

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

A heaping tsp of cumin, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp pepper.

Whisk well. To assemble salad; choose a large rimmed square, white platter. Lightly dress the greens with the cup of the chopped scallions, using half the dressing. Place evenly on the platter as a base. Then line up the rest of the ingredients in neat rows, balancing color and scale. For example, don’t put two things of the same color next to each other; spread the love. This makes the dish so visually appealing. Feta can be in a row or artfully scattered. Place medium whole basil leaves prettily throughout. Drizzle the rest of the dressing on top, and take me to Greece.

Blanched Green, White Bean, Tomato Salad

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Def feeling over heavy, winter comfort food. It’s not so comforting when you start to feel like you’ve hibernated with the carbs a bit too much (#me). In an effort to bring a fresh summer salad feel to the middle of this cold season, I put this together in the supermarket isle. Blanching veggies is a great way to keep them crisp, bright green, and light while cooked. Meaning, no prior roasting with oil. Blanching is a great cooking technique; fill a large pot with slightly salted water, put vegetables in when the water reaches a boil, leave it for 3 to 4 minutes, then quickly transfer the vegetables to an ice bath. I find that part fun, which could indicate that I need to get out more. An ice bath is a large bowl filled with a nice amount of ice and cold water. It stops the cooking process, thus retaining a bite and vibrant crispness. This is a snap to put together. It’s so fresh, delicious, and doesn’t get healthier. The white beans add a nice pop of color and another dimension of texture and natural flavor. As far as I’m concerned fresh dill is always a winner, so there’s tons of it here.

Ingredients:

3 boxes of cherry tomatoes halved lengthwise.

Two heads of fresh broccoli florets.

Two bunches of asparagus chopped into 2 to 3 inch pieces.

A large bunch of chopped fresh dill.

A can of cannellini beans rinsed and drained.

Dressing:

Half a cup cup each fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.

3 tbsp tarragon vinegar.

A tsp of salt and half a tsp pepper, adding a bit more to taste if needed.

Directions:

Blanche the broccoli in a large pot of boiling, salted water for four minutes. Have ice bath ready. Transfer and submerge immediately. Use a large slotted spoon. Don’t discard the water since you’ll next use it to blanche the asparagus for 3 minutes. If the asparagus is the thick kind you’ll need four minutes as well. Repeat ice bath process.

Drain both vegetables in a colander when they’re cold. Let air dry or pat dry with paper towels. When ready, mix all the veggies with the beans and dill, followed by the dressing. Let it absorb the flavors at least twenty minutes before serving. If serving the next day, combine it all fresh so that the dressing doesn’t diminish the bright green color. Your leftovers will still be delicious the next day, just less .

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Cauliflower Cheddar Sage Fritters

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WUT???? Yup, you read that right. I was psyched to share this with you! I came up with this potato free latke recipe around Chanukah time in December. Calling these babies “fritters” just might get me into the No Jews Allowed country club. Mashed cauliflower is a staple in our home, so it seemed like a logical next step to turn them into a less starchy version on the Chanukah classic. I then experimented and jazzed them up by adding shredded cheddar cheese, chopped fresh sage, and some diced red onion for color and bite. The sage tastes so wonderful! These would also be great made in minis, topped with say, a tomato confit. Pass those around at a party and you’re a rock star. Even a dollop of hummus on top, sprinkled with some paprika would be a lovely taster. 

Ingredients:

Two cauliflower

1.5 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Red onion

Two bundles sage

3 eggs

1 cup flour

Directions:

Two heads of cauliflower cut into pieces and boiled in water or vegetable stock until soft. Drain cauliflower, and mash with a potato masher or the back of a large spoon. Make sure it’s in a large mixing bowl.

Add a cup and a half of shredded cheddar cheese, a small to medium diced red onion, and two bundles of finely chopped fresh sage. Gently mix in three beaten eggs, 2 and a half tsp of salt, 1 tsp of pepper, and half a cup of all purpose flour. The flour binds the mixture by absorbing excess moisture. Add more by the tbsp if you think it necessary throughout the process.

Heat a large skillet or two with a generous amount of vegetable or canola oil. When the oil is very hot (you can test by tossing in a little bit of the mixture and seeing how it reacts), gently slide a spoonful of the mixture into the pan. Flatten the top. I find that using two spoons helps this. Be mindful of splattering oil!

Fry the cauliflower patties a few minutes on each side until a deep golden brown, flipping carefully with a spatula and large wooden spoon (that worked for me). Drain in a single layer on paper towels to absorb excess oil. To reheat on a low oven temp, I cover them with foil but poke holes in the top. I do this when I don’t want something to dry out, but I don’t want it to get soggy either. You can substitute a diced white onion or scallions for the red onion, and can use parsley or dill if you can’t get fresh sage. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Coconut Bark With Sea Salt🍫

I so love these barks. They’re easy, fast, impressive, and can be made into many varieties. There is something unbelievably satisfying about watching chocolate melt. It just becomes sooooo smooth. It looks like a Dove chocolate commercial, and makes me feel like a Belgian chocolatier as I stir. Or the fat kid in Willy Wonka.  I happen to love coconut. It was fun to add it here. The sprinkling of coarse sea salt was a nice little counter balance to all the other sweetness. When people started adding salt to desserts years ago, I was baffled. But it really does add an element of complementing the flavors.     

Directions:

Melt five 4 oz bars of semi sweet chocolate in a double boiler, stirring pretty often. Let cool slightly.

Pour the melted chocolate onto a rimmed baking sheet that has first been sprayed with non stick spray, then covered in wax/parchment paper. The spray only goes under the wax paper, not on top.

Pour chocolate, spreading to even out. Top the chocolate with a generous amount of shredded, unsweetened coconut, then sprinkle evenly with a few pinches  of sea salt.

Freeze uncovered on a flat surface until completely frozen, can be overnight. When frozen, break the bark into uneven pieces and either serve immediately, or put the pieces in an airtight container to use as desired.

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Orange Zinfandel Cornish Hens

Perfect for a holiday or any special occasion! I usually make this on the first night of Rosh Hashana. It’s nice to incorporate sweetness into the food on that holiday since we are blessing each other with the hope of having a sweet New Year. Duck and regular chicken parts work well here too. This dish is easy but impressive. My guests always appreciate the extra thought that went into jazzing up plain old chicken. That feeling alone sets the mood for a festive occasion; time, attention, effort, and love.

Ingredients:

Four Cornish hens, or one per person (I always get extra; I never get one per person but most normal people do). Feel free to double the marinade out the gate, in case you need more and want to have it ready.

One cup red Zinfandel or other hearty red wine.

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One cup fresh orange juice.

A third of a cup of chopped shallots.

1 tbsp fresh rosemary chopped.

1 tbsp fresh sage finely chopped.

Zest of one orange

Three cups homemade chicken stock.

Half a teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp water.

Three tbsp margarine.

Directions:

In a bowl, whisk the wine, juice, shallots, herbs, and zest. Pour a cup of this mixture into a baking dish.  Whisk in oil to make a marinade. Cover and refrigerate the remaining wine mixture. Place hens or chicken parts in the baking dish, turning to coat in the marinade. Refrigerate one to four hours, turning occasionally. When ready for the oven, bake uncovered on 350 for an hour and fifteen minutes. I like to broil this on the skin side to crisp it up a little, but that will be quick so watch and be ready to remove after maybe a minute or two. We want the skin crisp but not burned.

Take the remaining wine mixture. Combine with stock over high heat. Cook on stovetop about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced, till about a cup. Whisk in cornstarch mixture and boil until slightly thickened. Remove from heat, add margarine while whisking to combine, one tbsp at a time. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm on the lowest flame, covered. This yields a delicious sauce for the chicken. 

Three Cheese Country Pasta

Both adults and kids will love this hearty pasta. It’s classic home cooking that never fails to warm the belly and soul. I’ve been making it for years, and it’s always a hit. Comfort food is called that for a reason. Sautéing and seasoning the vegetables before combining with the pasta and cheese really release the aromatics that make the dish pop. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 tsp. dried basil

  • 1 tsp. dried oregano

  • 1/4 tsp. hot red pepper flakes

  • 1 can (28 oz.) tomatoes in puree, tomatoes 
      coarsely chopped and puree reserved

  • Salt, to taste

  • 1 lb. penne pasta

  • 1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese

  • 2 cups shredded fontina or mozzarella cheese

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

    Directions:

    In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Add the tomatoes and puree and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 10 to 12 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt.

    Preheat an oven to 350ºF. Lightly oil a baking dish. 

    Bring a large pot three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Salt the water, add the pasta, stir well and cook until barely al dente (tender but firm to the bite), 10 to 12 minutes. Drain well. 

    In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the sauce, the ricotta and fontina. Spread in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

    Bake until the cheeses are melted and the tips of the pasta are crusty, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot.

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Carrot Chips 🥕🥕🥕

 These ridged, biased cut carrot chips are from Whole Foods. One could also slice them like this on a mandolin. I’ve bought many mandolins over the years and have always been scared to use them. No one wants biased cut fingers!                                 

They are fantastic raw with dips instead of chips, or quickly roasted for an easy, healthy side dish. Make them savory with salt, pepper, and thyme or rosemary, or with coconut oil and cinnamon like I did here. Really not much to say here, which is kinda nice! When food, especially fresh produce, isn’t toyed with, its best for our bodies. Our digestive systems know immediately what to do with it.

Turn oven on roast setting to 400. Take a 1 pound bag of carrot chips. Mix with 3 tbsp melted coconut oil, a light sprinkling of salt and pepper, and a tsp of cinnamon. Roast 20 minutes or until crispy.

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