Slow Cooker Overnight Brown Rice Porridge

May 5, 2014 § 1 Comment

Such a year, so many changes and adaptations.  Our family has moved back to our beloved town of Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.  Amidst a heartrending few months of sky-high emotional turmoil and loss (another post, for another time), I can say that I am the happiest I have ever been.  I found Yoga again: Iyengar and the way it makes me feel purposeful.  I buy myself flowers every Friday and went shopping this week for new clothes.  I am making an effort to take care of myself in every way.  I discovered that when I don’t, maybe I’m trying to focus on my kids or my husband too much, everyone ends up suffering immeasurably.  So introducing my new wellness challenge: goodbye sugar!

I’ve read too many articles and medical studies that show that sugar consumption is outrageously high and is negatively affecting our health.  Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist, likes to call himself the “anti processed food guy.”  Here is his skinny on the obesity-sugar connection.

I’m lucky to have an amazing community of friends both in my neighborhood and online.  We’re going sugar free, and hoping that our families might too.

Yesterday was my first day off of sugar and it went surprisingly well (except for the peanut butter chocolate bar I wolfed down before bedtime and then felt as guilty as if I’d stolen it from the store).  This morning I woke up to the sweet smell of apples and cinnamon.  Before bed I set up the slow cooker on a timer and mixed together the ingredients for a whole-grain brown rice porridge.  It was piping hot when my kids and I woke up and was delightful with just a bit of honey and raisins on top.

Brown Rice Porri

Slow Cooker Brown Rice Porridge with Apples

Ingredients:

3 cups round brown rice (you can use standard brown rice or Basmati but the texture will be less porridge-like and more similar to rice)

9 cups liquid (I use a combination of unsweetened almond milk and water

1 tbsp cinnamon

1-2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)

4 apples, peeled and diced

1 tsp sea salt

2 tbsp good quality oil (olive, coconut, etc.)

Combine ingredients in a large slow cooker.  Set the timer to cook on low for 7 hours.  My slow cooker is simple and doesn’t have an internal timer.  I use a clock on my outlet and set the time so the porridge starts to cook at around 11 pm.  Cook on low for 7-8 hours.  Serve with a bit of honey or maple syrup and raisins.

My lucky stars + almond butter cookies

January 23, 2013 § 1 Comment

I’ve been experiencing an interesting phenomenon in the last week or so and I really can’t make heads or tails of it. I’ll be with my kids at home doing our thing, eating, making messes, general pandemonium. And then something will come crashing down. Literally. Last week I had just finished bath time and as I carry one toweled, dripping baby and chase a naked toddler I hear a huge crash of broken glass. Behind me the heavy glass light fixture in the bathroom had fallen onto the floor and shattered where we had been crouched together only a moment before. A few days later my baby was wandering around my bedroom and playing in my closet. The second she left the room a massive wooden shelf fell down right where she was playing. And today as I was making these cookies, she crawls into the kitchen saying “hot!”. She had CLIMBED onto the middle of the coffee table and pulled my fresh cup of coffee onto herself. She wasn’t crying, her fleece clothes protected every inch of her skin.

So what should I take away from these near disasters? My home is a death trap? I need to be even more careful? Well, there’s that. But I think more so that these were near disasters. As much as I can complain about the cold Jerusalem streets and navigating the social stratosphere, I have it so good. That’s it. Thankful. Alive and kicking, screaming and crying and laughing and eating and thankful.

Interesting transition into cookies, but I am certainly thankful for these, too. If you have ever made a traditional peanut butter cookie you’ll know they are naturally gluten free. Grain free, actually. After a delightful trip to machne yehuda shuk last night I am stocked up with fresh nuts. I wanted to switch up the flavor profile so I made a nut butter with pecans and almonds. Everything changed. It’s a different cookie entirely. Thin, crispy, ever so buttery never mind they have none. It’s the pecans, my friend.

Almond-Pecan Butter Cookies
gluten free, grain free, dairy free

1/4 cup raw pecans
3/4 cup raw almonds
1-2 tbsp canola oil
(alternately you could use 1 cup prepared almond butter)
1 cup natural cane sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Grind pecans and almonds in a food processor, adding canola oil until it reaches the consistency of thick peanut butter. You may need to scrape down the sides frequently. Preheat your oven to 350 f (176 c). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, add 1 cup almond butter, egg, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix until combined. Using a teaspoon measure, plop dough in small rounds onto the parchment lined sheet. These will spread significantly so a teaspoon is more than enough; take care to leave enough room between each cookie. Bake 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. Allow to cool on the pan for a full 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely. The cookies will get more crunchy as they cool. Keep in an airtight container for a week, or freeze. They get better as the days go on.

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Where have you been? And gluten free vegan bread (what else?)

September 24, 2012 § 5 Comments

Recently my good friend Tziporah decided to stop by.  She lives in my neighborhood but with kids and work its difficult to catch up sometimes.  She, with her wisdom and gift for insight, inspired me to continue writing even when its hard.  And ladies and gentleman, it is hard around here.

Where have I been?  I have two kids under the age of two and was resisting childcare.  That whole “I can take care of my OWN kids” syndrome.  I stuck it out for 9 months.  My son is now enjoying himself in a half-day nursery school and my 9 month old baby girl has never been happier to play alone without fear of being trampled or excessively kissed.  We needed a break.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, my life has been in a total whirlwind since my last semester in College.  School, conversion, seminary, marriage, first baby, second baby.  I feel like I can breathe again.  Like I can sit down with a cup of coffee (alone!) and think about who I am and where I want to be.  It also helps that I started Rabbi Aryeh Nivin’s Personal Development Chabura.  I am investing in myself because a happy mommy means a happy family.  (Cheesy, yes.  True, 100%).  I cannot tell you how long it took me to believe that I am worth investing in.

I am also happy to report that as of several months ago I am pain and medication free.  On a recent trip to the States I met with my Rheumatologist who reported that I have perfect blood work.  That means I am completely in remission from Rheumatoid Arthritis.  How did this happen?  I stopped eating gluten.  I had dabbled before with the diet but I now avoid even trace contamination.  I’m not telling every person who might have arthritis or an autoimmune disease to try a gluten-free diet.  I know better.  But if you are not responding to medication and are at your wit’s end, there is absolutely no harm in trying.  I can pick up my kids, use my hands, climb the stairs, push a stroller, fasten my own buttons, cut my chicken, and I have not had this much energy since I was a teenager.  I could not say the same a year ago.

I’ve tried dozens of recipes for gluten-free bread.  When I discovered that my daughter is also sensitive to eggs and dairy, I had to get creative with recipes.  This is my favorite gluten-free bread I have tasted including those from the most popular gluten-free companies.  It contains nuts so it might not suit the needs of everyone.  But if you are looking for a vegan and gluten-free all-purpose dough  this recipe is for you.  (I’ll soon be posting a nut free bread that rivals any  fluffy dinner roll on the market)

I adapted it slightly from Ginger Lemon Girl.  She deserves the credit as I did nothing more than swap out a few starches and lower the amount of gums.  I prefer to bake gluten-free bread in small round tins (slightly larger and more shallow than a muffin tin), but this bread also slices beautifully in a traditional loaf.  I’m even trying it out as pizza dough this evening.  The sorghum and brown rice flour are easy subs for each other if you can only find one or the other. *If you can take the time to buy an inexpensive kitchen scale for weighing dry ingredients I would HIGHLY advise you do so.  Gluten free baking works exceptionally well when done by weight and it makes it even easier to convert traditional wheat recipes to gluten-free.

Gluten Free Vegan Bread

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups almond flour (144 grams)
1/2 cup brown rice flour (71 grams)
1/2 cup sorghum flour (72 grams)
1 cup potato starch (140 grams)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon dry yeast
3 tablespoons honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup
1/4 cup neutral tasting oil

In a medium bowl combine the honey (or agave to make it 100% vegan), yeast and warm water.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes or so until it bubbles like a cauldron.  In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix well until it becomes a completely homogenous flour mixture.  Add oil to yeast mixture and stir to combine.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir well for 5-10 minutes.  Do not skip this step.  The dough (which really resembles a thick cake batter) will go from chunky to smooth as the gums start to develop.  This process mimicks gluten and is essential to a good crumb structure.  Cover and allow to rest in a warm place for an hour or two.  Preheat your oven to 350 F (176 C).  Spray shallow tart tins, muffin pans, or loaf pan with Pam or grease well with oil.  Divide dough equally.  Allow to rise for another 20-30 minutes while the oven preheats.  Bake in a hot oven for 20-30 minutes, rotating the pans half way through baking time.  Bread is done when it is a deep golden brown color.  Remove the pans from the oven and rest for 5 minutes.  Remove the rolls or loaves and transfer carefully to a wire rack and allow to cool COMPLETELY before slicing.  These keep well for 1-2 days at room temperature, but I usually freeze what I cannot eat in one day.

And the cold drifts in

October 19, 2011 § Leave a comment


The air is cool in the morning. And again in the evening. Last night I wore boots and a wool beret to hang out in the Sukkah. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. I love the changing of seasons, and as trite as it sounds, I wait for that cold intake of air all year. There is something about the weather turning cooler that signals to me a fresh start. I carefully (ok, not always so painstakingly) put away the summer wardrobe, break out the bags and boxes of sweaters, fleece, and warm blankets. I eat hot oatmeal with brown sugar and cinnamon every morning. Afternoon tea is a totally legitimate past time and not to be considered overkill (as some might think it in the summer).

It’s a strange time for me, but a good one, and necessary I think. In two weeks time I’ll be moving out of our apartment into another. A nice little place off a pedestrian path, with a garden with a tree. I’ll have another month after that to settle in, set up house, and then my life will change drastically once again. It feels incredible to go through all of our possessions, shedding old clothes and knick knacks and garbage that has been weighing us down since before we were married. And our little baby isn’t such a little baby anymore. He’s chatting, cruising, getting into trouble. Soon enough he’ll be walking. Things are always changing, evolving. But I can count on that cold intake of air to bring me back to a familiar place of renewal.

There is nothing revolutionary about this pie. I use fresh pumpkin, which is actually quite simple to prepare*, and it makes a world of difference. You could use a can of pure pumpkin puree and I won’t hold it against you. A smooth dairy-free custard is baked in a gluten-free cookie crust which holds up well as the days pass; no soggy bottoms here. Spicy, sweet, delightful.

*I realize I forgot to mention how one actually prepares fresh pumpkin. I like small-ish sugar pumpkins, as the larger ones tend to have a funky taste. Save those for your front stoop. Hack it up in the pieces, scraping out the stringy insides and seeds. Place in a large microwave safe bowl and cover with plastic. Microwave in 10 minute bursts until all pieces are soft and easily pierced with a fork. Scrape out the flesh into another large bowl and puree with a hand blender, or blend in a blender. If it seems to be excessively watery, you can strain it in a strainer lined with cheesecloth. I like to freeze half-cup amounts in small plastic bags, labeled, so I can take out a few when I need an Autumn pick-me-up. Voila! Easy as pie.

Pumpkin Pie in a Cookie Crust
Gluten free, dairy free, soy free
Makes 1 9 inch deep dish pie
Adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients

2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Brown rice flour (or all-purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin (If using the canned version, make sure it is unseasoned)
2 tablespoons honey
3 large eggs
1 cup almond milk (or any dairy free milk of your preference)
1 prepared Gluten Free Cookie Crust (Recipe below)

Preheat oven to 450 F. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients, blend until smooth. Pour into baked and cooled cookie crust. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 325 F and bake for another 40-60 minutes, depending on your oven. Cool on a wire rack completely. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the pie and refrigerate until serving (2-3 days max.). Serve cold or at room temperature.

Gluten Free Cookie Crust
Makes 1 9 inch deep dish crust
Adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups finely crushed gluten free tea biscuits (or any other simple butter cookie similar to a vanilla wafer)
1/4 cup white sugar
6 tablespoons margarine, melted (The comma placement means you first measure out 6 tbsp of cold margarine, then melt. If a recipes states “6 tbsp melted margarine” it means you measure AFTER melting. Not as common)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
A pinch of salt

Directions for Crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C). In a bowl combine the cookie crumbs, sugar, margarine and cinnamon; mix until well blended. Press into a 9 inch pie plate. Bake in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes, until lightly brown. Cool.

A Reprieve + Gluten-Free Banana Muffins

July 31, 2011 § 5 Comments


I’m not even going to get into where I’ve been. Oh how I have so much to tell you. About pizza. And fresh summer salads with feta and balsamic. And slaw. Oh the slaw. But that’s for another post and another time. Because the news I have for you today is so incredible, so mind blowing that you will be running to your kitchens as soon as you finish reading. I made the best muffins in existence. The most tender, the most flavorful, the perfect crumb, crunchy lidded, ideal banana whole grain muffins. And they are gluten-free. Yes, I have gone over to the dark side and become a buckwheat-eating freak. I’ll explain the situation at length later, but just know this: I have not felt this good in months. Maybe a year. Maybe since before my RA diagnosis. And thank you G-d, there will be muffins.

You might recognize this recipe from my Vegan Banana Bread. Instead of messing around with other gluten-free muffin recipes with ingredients I didn’t have, I decided to experiment with a recipe that works- with wheat flour at least. With the guidance of Gluten-free Goddess and her baking tips and substitutions, I made a gluten-free flour mix, and subbed out the wheat flour in my regular recipe. I also added an egg and some baking powder for extra leavening and binding. And a little ground flax seed for good measure. Mine did not rise as high as traditional muffins, but you can experiment with how much you fill your baking cups. I can’t express how delicious these are. And not just by gluten-free standards. You can easily make this into banana bread, just grease or line a standard size loaf pan with parchment and voila. You could even add chocolate chips. My Husband would approve.

Gluten-free Whole Grain Banana Muffins
Makes 12 muffins or 1 large loaf
Gluten, Soy, and Dairy-free
*Note: the GF flour mix makes more than needed for this recipe. Store the rest in an airtight container in your fridge or freezer and use for another delectable gluten free recipe. It works well for just about any baked good.

Ingredients
1/2 cup margarine or canola oil
1/2-3/4 cup Demerara or white sugar (depending on how sweet you like your muffins)
1 egg
1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix*
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3 ripe, mashed bananas

Gluten-free flour mix:
1 cup brown or whole rice flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp ground flax seeds

Whisk together and store in the refrigerator or freezer in a tightly lidded container.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F (176 C). Line a muffin tin with liners, or grease wells with oil. In a large bowl, combine margarine or canola oil and sugar, stirring well to combine. Add the egg and beat well. Add salt and pumpkin pie spice. Sift in 1 1/2 cups of the gluten-free flour mix, baking soda, and baking powder. Add mashed bananas. Mix well, beating for a minute or two. With normal muffins, over beating would make for a tough muffin. With gluten-free flours, beating adds aeration and makes for a lighter crumb. Using a 1/4 cup measure, fill the muffin cups with batter almost to the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes. The muffins are done when they are brown on the top, the tops spring back when you touch them, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the pan cool on a wire rack for a minute or two. Remove the muffins to the wire rack to cool, or else the bottoms will steam. Eat them all.

Chocolate Pudding Pie

March 21, 2011 § 2 Comments


The results are in! Over 60% of polled readers said their guilty pleasure is definitely chocolate. Of course it is. Every Mom should have a secret stash of chocolate in her house for emergencies. I usually keep a good bar of dark chocolate in the fridge and try to avoid stocking other chocolate treats in the house simply because I cannot be trusted. Recently I started buying boxes of those miniature chocolate chip cookies, thinking because they are minis I can eat more and not stuff myself. I ate them like chips. Or popcorn. I ate them by the handful. So then I decided to make my own chocolate chip cookies, again in miniature form, to have around the house as a special treat. I’d limit myself to one a day. I baked over two dozen one afternoon. Devoured in a weekend. Not cool, man.

I brought this Chocolate Pudding pie to a Purim bar-b-q hosted by a friend of mine. On the holiday of Purim we eat, drink and generally be merry, give gifts of food and drink, spread the wealth around to those less fortunate, disguise ourselves in costumes and listen twice to the Purim story of how Queen Esther and Mordechai the Jew saved the Jewish people. By the time dessert rolls around everyone is so tipsy no one cares what you serve them- this pie is the exception. There were ooohs. And aaaahs. People asked for seconds. It’s dairy-free and darn good.

Chocolate Pudding Pie
Adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book

Ingredients

1 cookie crumb crust (I used a Keebler graham cracker crust, but you can easily make your own)
For the Filling:
2 1/2 cups soy milk
150 grams semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch (cornflour)
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
For the Topping:
1 cup parve heavy cream (I used Rich’s Whip)
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Finely chopped chocolate for garnish

Directions

In a saucepan over low heat, combine the soy milk and finely chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Turn off the heat. In a large bowl whisk egg yolks with sugar until pale yellow in color. Add cornstarch, salt, and vanilla extract and beat for 1 minute. In small batches, slowly pour the melted chocolate into the egg mixture, mixing well in between additions. Do not pour in all at once or the eggs will cook and your custard will be ruined. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. About 5-10 minutes. Whisk until completely smooth. At this point you have the perfect chocolate pudding. Feel free to forgo the pie and eat with a spoon. If you decide to proceed, pour the pudding into the pie crust until it almost reaches the top. There might be a bit of pudding left over. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the pie and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours before serving. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or a stainless steel mixing bowl) combine parve whipping cream, remaining 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Whip on medium-high with the whisk attachment (or with a wire whisk if by hand) until stiff peaks form, about 3-5 minutes. You can tell a stiff peak if when you remove the whisk from the bowl, a peak of cream remains standing and doesn’t fold over. Remove plastic from the chilled pie and spoon whipped cream onto the top, smoothing the surface. You can dust with finely chopped chocolate for a garnish. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. You can also place in the freezer for a few minutes to firm before serving.

Purim Sameach!

A Sigh of Relief + Oatmeal Coconut Cookies

March 1, 2011 § 4 Comments


I don’t respond well to stress. I tend to work myself up into a tizzy, running myself ragged until I can no longer function as a normal human being. Last night I was so exhausted I fell into a deep sleep without another thought of what today might hold for me. This morning I dropped my huge, enormous, grown up 6 month old Baby at his new babysitting group. Then I left, and I didn’t cry (neither did he, but we all knew he’s a tough cookie). I ate a bagel, drank a cup of tea and walked to start my life as a Hebrew speaker.

To my surprise, I was home 40 minutes after my first day of classes was meant to begin with a request to come back tomorrow morning and start fresh. I found myself in an empty house with more than 3 hours until I had to pick up AJ. I have not had 3 hours to myself since last August. I seriously considered putting my PJs back on and going to bed for the entire time. Then I realized these gifts don’t come around often, so I decided to do the next best thing: bake some cookies. I’ve been all-consumed with preparing the Babe for daycare, I haven’t baked anything in weeks. Not good for my psyche. Time to fill the void.

When I was pregnant my birthing class teacher taught me that you should always have healthy oatmeal cookies on hand. They are good for fighting cravings, are filled with wholesome ingredients, and you don’t have to feel badly about eating a ton of them. Her version is a whole lot healthier than these, but I’m not complaining.

Oatmeal Coconut Cookies
adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book

I love the combination of dried coconut with oatmeal- in fact, I love it so much I eat it every morning for breakfast. Instead of your average addition of cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice packs a punch of interesting flavors including cardamom, cloves, and citrus depending on your brand. I like Trader Joe’s. These are reminiscent of the Ranger cookies from my past. Even though they are made with oil as opposed to butter, they are surprisingly rich tasting.

Ingredients

1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4-1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (depending how spicy you like your cookies)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup unsweetened dried coconut

In a large bowl, add canola oil and sugars and beat well with a wooden spoon. Add lightly beaten egg and vanilla, beating again to combine. Sift in flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Mix until well blended. Add rolled oats and dried coconut and mix until blended. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350 F (176 C) and grease a cookie sheet well or line with parchment paper. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto the sheet, with at least 2 inches in between as the cookies spread. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove immediately to a wire rack and cool completely. These will keep for a few days in an airtight container. You can also flash freeze balls of dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet, transferring them to a freezer safe bag when solid. Then grab a few from the bag and pop them in the oven whenever you want fresh cookies!
*Note- I did the above and discovered these are even better straight of the freezer into a hot oven.

Fresh Salsa

February 15, 2011 § 1 Comment


I grieve the absence of a Mexican restaurant in Israel. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve imagined opening up my own burrito stand, or homestyle dive selling tacos and fresh guacamole.There is the question of Kosher- would it be a meat-only establishment? Vegetarian? I would be entirely unqualified but at least I’d have enthusiasm.

If enthusiasm were a career, I’d be an expert in my field. I’ve never lacked for enthusiasm, it’s the get-up-and-go that I struggle with. I feel like I’m the number one second guesser, and it’s starting to become more evident as I consider what is next on this journey called life. Masters degree? Great idea, but then there is daycare, and choosing a focus, the long hours, the time spent away from home, and will I ever use it to build a real job? So just like my imaginary Mexican restaurant, it gets put on hold until the next grand idea.

I’ve taken to making my own Mexican dishes to stave off my cravings and feelings of inadequacy as a restaurateur, which always seem to strike in the winter. I think it’s linked to a lack of vitamin C. Of course this falls during the opposite of tomato season. Sadly, the selection at the market this week was pathetic- hard, yellow, unripe beef steak tomatoes that I wouldn’t even allow space in my bag.

Did you know that canned tomatoes, along with other frozen and canned produce, are picked and packaged at the peak of their ripeness? I regularly use the canned variety for marinara sauce or as the base for soup or stew. They work wonders in this salsa alongside fresh cilantro. We ate almost the entire batch with massive beef burritos filled with rice and black beans. I like my salsa chunk-less, if you will, so this is most similar to what you’d find in an authentic Tex-Mex restaurant.

I turned to the great, all-mighty Pioneer Woman for salsa inspiration this time around, and I’m sure glad I did. I figured if anyone knows a good salsa its the wife of an Oklahoma cattle rancher. I’m making use of my new food processor, or as I like to call it- my little plastic savior. A blender would also work well.

Fresh Salsa
adapted from PW

Ingredients

1 large can (28 oz) whole, peeled tomatoes
1/2 green pepper, grated
1/2 red pepper, grated
1/2 yellow or orange pepper, grated
1 small jalapeno pepper
1 small red onion
1 cup fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 lemon

Grate the peppers using the grater attachment on your food processor or on a box grater. Combine peppers, tomatoes with their juice, red onion, cilantro, sugar, salt, cumin, red pepper flakes and lemon juice in your food processor or blender. Pulse several times until well combined and there are no large chunks. Taste (with a chip!) and add more seasoning as desired. Chill in the refrigerator for several hours before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

Vegetable Minestrone Soup

February 7, 2011 § 3 Comments


Yesterday was not a good day for me. I looked around my filthy house, and made an executive decision to do nothing. I didn’t get out of my pajamas until 6 pm when I realized my husband would be home from work and see me, in my pajamas. The same pajamas from the day before. Instead of making food, I microwaved some leftover potato kugel and ate it with ketchup. I finished off the bag of cookies and brownies from Shabbat.

I was, lets just say it, feeling sorry for myself. I felt like a big fat pig who eats nothing but junk, who never gets dressed, but pads around the apartment in slippers. I sat at my computer, letting my baby amuse himself on his bouncy chair. What a terrible mother. Here I have this opportunity to grow his little brain and I’m watching Ben Affleck movies (Hey, it was good!). I was lonely, feeling alone in this country and very, very far away from home. For whatever reason my self-esteem was plummeting, and something needed to be done about it.

This morning I woke up and immediately changed my baby into a real outfit. I got myself dressed, put on my nice wig (gotta love that), and even put on some makeup. Will I leave the house today? I’m not sure. But at least I’ll look nice for myself and the Baby. I had a strong cup of coffee, a bowl of healthy granola, and called my Mother-in-law for a chat. Sometimes a bad day is all in your head.

When I’m feeling down and out, it’s usually linked to eating poorly. Which one comes before the other, I’m not sure. I like to remedy this negativity with lots of fresh water and vegetables. I made this Vegetable Minestrone and it was the perfect cure to a no good, very bad day.

Vegetable Minestrone
Makes about 3 quarts of soup

Ingredients

2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 large stalks of celery, sliced
8 cups water or vegetable broth
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can navy, kidney or cannelini beans, rinsed
2 cups cut green beans (if frozen, just dump em in, if fresh, wash and cut into 2 inch pieces)
2 cups uncooked pasta (I used whole wheat rotini but shells or penne would also be good here)
1 can crushed tomatoes with juice
Salt, pepper, oregano, basil and paprika to taste

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add carrots and celery and stir to combine. Add water or vegetable broth, green beans, canned beans, salt, pepper and spices to taste, and the can of crushed tomatoes with juice. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes or more, or until the carrots are tender. Check the seasoning and add more according to your taste. Add the pasta and cook for 5-10 minutes until pasta is cooked. Serve hot with crusty bread. If freezing, I would withhold the pasta, then reheat on the stove, adding the pasta in the last 5-10 minutes of cooktime.

Goat Cheese Tart with Caramelized Red Onion and Potato

February 2, 2011 § 3 Comments

One of my great joys in life is having guests. I like to set out little shampoos and clean towels, realizing that I should have opened a B&B instead of a Blog. I want people to feel comfortable, well fed and happy when they stay with us. So I was delighted to have my best friend from College come crash along with a friend for a few days.

This was their first trip to Israel and now they are off traveling the country and beyond like brave girls do.

Selfishly, I enjoyed their company not only because I was performing the mitzvah of Hachnosas Orchim (hospitality), but because it felt so good to have an old-fashioned, stay up late, heart-to-heart with some strong women. There is nothing in this world like a great girlfriend, and I’m proud to call a core group of ladies my best friends. And they made my Baby giggle.

And who doesn’t love that?

I made this Tart for dinner and paired it with a salad. It was not enough food for four people and I was embarrassed so I stuffed them with Ice cream cake. I think they will forgive me. I really should have entitled this post “Fancy Diner Food in a Tart Shell” because that’s what it is, and why it’s so perfect. I don’t know about you, but every time I’ve been to a Diner or other Breakfast-24- hours a day establishment, it’s always a big decision: pancakes or eggs and hash browns. I love buttered toast more than anything, and that’s why I always choose the eggs. Because who orders a side of toast with a huge stack of pancakes? I’m also a massive fan of breakfast potatoes and a good over-medium flipped egg.

My parents used to call me Miss Breakfast because I often ate more than one breakfast a day, sometimes at night for dinner. There are not many things more satisfying than that. Maybe washing your hands with fresh smelling soap and hot water. Or sneaking away to read a great book with no one to bother you. A glass of sweet, cold water in the middle of the night. I’m a simple girl. Either way, breakfast for dinner is light and easy and good for entertaining- that is, if you make enough, and not leave your guests hungry. *Gulp*

Goat Cheese Tart with Caramelized Red Onion and Potato
Makes 1 tart, enough for 2 normal adults for dinner, or as a side dish for a group

This could have had more seasoning, so if you like it full-flavored, add some more chopped fresh thyme and fresh rosemary. You can also sprinkle the top with parmesan or sharp flavored, shredded cheese before baking.

Ingredients

1 sheet puff pastry
2 eggs
1/2 cup creamy goat cheese
1/2 cup milk
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
3-4 small, new potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp margarine or butter
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup parmesan cheese or sharp flavored shredded cheese (optional)

Using a tart pan with a removable bottom, fit a piece of uncooked puff pastry into the pan. Chill in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350 F (176 C) and place a pan in the bottom third section. Remove the tart crust from the refrigerator and using a piece of aluminum foil, completely cover the crust, pressing the foil to fit the inside. Fill the foil-lined crust with uncooked rice or beans or pie weights. Bake the pie crust for 15 minutes until set but not browned. Remove the crust from the oven, remove the foil and weights, and return to the oven to bake for 5-10 minutes to lightly brown. Poke any bubbles that appear with a fork and don’t allow the crust to rise (Tamp down with a spoon if you need to). Remove the crust to a wire rack to cool. In a small sauce pan, cover the peeled and chopped potatoes with water and over high heat, boil until tender, about 10 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking, melt 1 tbsp margarine in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Put the sliced red onions into the pan and cook for 10-15 minutes, until starting to brown. Set aside. When the potatoes are tender and cooked, drain them in a colander and add them to the caramelized onions and cook for 2-3 minutes over high heat. In a bowl, combine 2 eggs, milk, creamy goat cheese, thyme and any other herbs you like, salt and pepper, whisking to combine. Spread the onions and potatoes on the bottom of the tart shell. Season the potatoes and onions with additional salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes, and if you like, sprinkle parmesan or shredded cheese over top. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the tart no longer jiggles and the top is lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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