Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chef BoyarLee

I hate to admit this, but I used to love eating Spaghetti-O's and Chef Boyardee. At this point in my life, you couldn't pay me to eat canned pasta, ick.

One of my canned favorites was the one with mini meatballs. So, I wanted to recreate a fresher healthier version of my old favorite for my boy's dinner tonight. I made them Rainbow Pasta and Mini Meatballs, it was SO easy! You can just call me Chef BoyarLee.

Rainbow Pasta and Mini Meatballs

I served this with a simple green salad, and fresh fruit. Prince Hock #2 A.K.A Mr. Meatball ate 2 big helpings.

1 box colored Rotini
1 lb. ground beef
1 jar marinara, I used Newman's Own Organic

Cook the pasta according to the box's directions.

Pour the jar of marinara into a medium sized pot with a lid. Make very small balls of meat and put them into the sauce. You can wet your hands if you find the meat is sticking to them. Once all the meat has been formed into ball, place the pot on the stove and turn on medium high heat, when the sauce starts boiling, turn the heat to low, and gently simmer covered for 30 minutes.

Top the cooked pasta with the meatballs and sauce, and serve.


Have a good night! Pin It

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Best Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

After I gave birth to Prince Hock #3, they moved me to the room I would be staying in for the next 2 nights. About 5 minutes of being in my new room, and there was a knock at the door, it was a delivery man. He was delivering a gift from g-d, well not actually from g-d, but from a friend...It was warm freshly baked cookies, the best I have ever had. My mouth is watering just from thinking about them.

Those incredibly delicious morsels were from a company called Tiff's Treats. Their M.O. is warm yummy cookie delivery, it's pure genius.

As I devoured the cookies over the next few days, I contemplated what made these cookies the best ever. Was it their chewiness, their butteriness, or just the addictive drugs they must hide in their cookies?

I feel like my mission in life is to find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe, I've tried quite a few. So, I am proud to say I was very excited when I made a new cookie recipe, and it was the best yet.

Here it is:

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
These are the best warm out of the oven with a glass of cold milk. Mmmmmmm!!! The original recipe comes from Anna Olson.
3/4 C. butter or margarine
3/4 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. white sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract, I always use the best quality such as Nielsen Massey
2 C. flour
2 t. cornstarch
1 t. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
1 C. semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, cover a sheet pan with parchment paper, or use a silpat
Mix the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix until thoroughly mixed. In a seperate bowl mix together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until comes together, do not over mix. Add the chocolate chips.
Scoop out tablespoon size balls, with a cookie scoop (if you have one) and place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, you want the edges to be golden brown, do not over cook, the tops will not be brown.
Remove from the oven and serve warm, they are still yummy at room temperature. Repeat baking process with remaining dough.
Have a great night!
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chick-fil-A My Way

I have had an ongoing love affair with Chick-fil-A since I was a kid. My brother and I used to beg my mom to take us there. She is not a fan, she sometimes refers to it as Sh*t-fil-A. (pardon my French). My mom is going to kill me for saying that!

I decided to make my favorite Chic-fil-A items for dinner tonight: Chicken Nuggets, Carrot Raisin Salad, and Waffle Fries.

The result was fantastic. The chicken tasted very similar, and it was better in a way because the chicken itself was much better quality.  This dinner was not the healthiest, but it sure pleased the boys.

Here are the recipes:

Chick-fil-A Chicken

I know you are probably thinking it's weird that this recipe calls for pickle juice, but it's really what makes it like the real deal.

2-4 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into  small nugget size cubes
1 C. soy milk, plain (If you don't keep kosher, feel free to use real milk)
1/4 C. pickle juice
1 egg beaten

1 1/4 C. flour
2 T. powdered sugar
2 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1/2 t. garlic powder
oil for frying

In a large Ziploc baggie, mix together the soy milk, pickle juice, and egg. Add the chicken, seal the bag and marinate in the refrigerator for 4-8 hours.

In a medium bowl mix together the flour, powdered sugar, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Pour 1 inch of oil into a large skillet, mine was about 1/2 C. Heat the oil over medium/ medium high heat.

Once the oil is hot, remove pieces of the chicken from the marinade and roll in the flour mixture.  Cook the chicken in the hot oil in batches. Cook on one side until crisp and golden brown, then flip and cook on the other side until it is also golden brown. Remove to paper towels. You can cut into the middle and check that the chicken is cooked through.

If the chicken is browning too quickly, you may need to lower the heat. If the heat is too low, the chicken will soak up the oil.

If you find that the chicken isn't cooking through, you can continue to cook it in an oven heated to 350 degrees until cooked through.

Serve with whatever sauce you prefer.

Chick-fil-A Carrot Raisin Salad

I have always loved this, it's a sweet treat.

1 lb. carrots, peeled and shredded
1 (8 oz.) small can crushed pineapple
1 C. raisins
1/2 C. mayo, I used light
1-3 T. sugar depending how sweet you like it
1 T. fresh lemon juice

Use a food processor to shred the carrots, you could also hand grate them. Place the shredded carrots in a bowl, and mix in the crushed pineapple, raisins, mayo, sugar, and lemon juice. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.


For the waffle fries, I baked frozen waffle fries, the whole meal was easy.

In the words of the cows:


Have a good night!
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Monday, May 28, 2012

Pecan Crusted Salmon

Shavuot 2012 is now over and it was awesome! We got to hang out with family and friends, and we had an all out eating fest.  What's better than that?

 We had blintzes, cheesecakes, and Talenti Gelato.  I always get excited to serve Talenti because usually when we entertain, I cook meat meals and since we keep kosher, it's prohibited to eat dairy after we eat meat.

King Hock brought home the all new flavor, Banana Chocolate Swirl. It's A-MAZ-ING. You can find that particular flavor at Target.

Banana Chocolate Swirl New

We also had the ever popular Sea Salt Caramel flavor (found everywhere), and I served 2 more new flavors:  Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup. All so so so delish!
sea salt caramel gelatoBlack Raspberry Chocolate Chip NewChocolate Peanut Butter Cup New

The boys are exhausted from staying up late every night. On Saturday night they were playing hide and go seek barefoot in our backyard at 11 P.M. 

On Saturday night, I served Pecan Crusted Salmon. It was simple to make and very delicious.I will definitely be making that again soon. Here's the recipe:

Pecan Crusted Salmon

from, Try to get the freshest fish possible.

6 (4 oz.) Salmon Fillets
Salt and Pepper
3 T. dijon mustard
3 T. butter or margarine
5 T. honey
1/2 C. finely chopped pecans
1/2 C. bread crumbs
3 t. fresh parsley, chopped
Lemon wedges for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Lay the salmon fillet on the baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

In a sauce pan over low heat, melt the butter or margarine. Remove from the heat and add the dijon mustard and honey. Stir to combine.

In a bowl mix together the pecans, bread crumbs, and parsley.

Brush the salmon with the butter mixtures. Sprinkle with the pecan bread crumb mixture. If there is leftover butter mixture, you can drizzle it over the top of the salmon.

Bake for 20 minutes, or when the salmon flakes easily with a fork.


Have a good night!!

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Hot Pretzel Challah

OMG!!  Pretzel Challah is out of this world!

What a nice change of pace. Think hot pretzel (Aunt Annie's style) in the form of a challah. Yum!

Hot Pretzel Challah (Bread Machine)

This can be served alone or with mustard or honey mustard.

2 eggs
1 1/2 C. water
2 T. vegetable oil
2 1/2 t. salt
2 T. sugar
6 C. bread flour
4 1/2 t. active dry yeast

16 C. water
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. baking soda

egg wash:
2 yolks
1 T. cold water
1/4 t. sugar
1/4 t. salt

coarse salt

Place the dough ingredients into the bowl of the bread machine in the order listed above starting with eggs and ending yeast. Turn the machine on the dough cycle.

Once the dough cycle ends, remove the dough from the machine and shape into 3 seperate challahs on a floured countertop. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and cover 2 baking sheets with parchment, then sprinkle with cornmeal.

In a large metal saucepan or roasting pan, bring 16 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the brown sugar and baking soda. Be careful because the baking soda will bubble up.

Place the braided challah one by one in the boiling solution. After 30 seconds, use 2 spatulas and flip and boil for 30 seconds on the other side. Remove to a dish towel spread out on the counter, repeat with the reamining challahs.

Transfer the challah to the prepared baking sheet, and brush with the egg wash. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Then place in the oven, bake for 15 minutes, then remove and brush with the egg wash again. Place back in the oven turning the sheet pan around. Bake for 15 more minutes.

Remove from the oven, serve immediately, or let cool and then wrap in foil and reheat in the oven when ready to serve. I usually place my challah in the oven for about 30 minutes before we serve it.


Happy Shabbos and Shavuot!

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pineapple Muffins, Pineapple Smoothies

Let's not fool ourselves, muffins are actually cupcakes, and smoothies are actually milkshakes. With that said, muffins and smoothies are my boys two favorite afternoon snacks. I don't feel guilty because they are eating fruit.

Making smoothies is a production. I buy almost every different frozen fruit that exists, and I let them pick which fruits they want to put it. Every time the results are different, and every time the boys say "this is the best smoothie ever!"

In order to make the Pineapple Smoothies exactly according to the recipe, I had to sneak off.  Once I informed them that I made smoothies, they were excited to try them. They gave the same exuberant response as usual.

Now you are probably wondering why I've gone crazy with pineapple. I bought a huge pineapple on Sunday, and there was only so much pineapple we could eat before it was no longer good. So, I came up with delicious ways to use it up.

Pineapple Muffins

Makes 16 medium muffins

2 C. flour
1 C. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
2 eggs
1/2 C. oil
1/2 C. pineapple juice
1 t. vanilla
2 C. fresh pineapple, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners, and spray the edges with non stick spray.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the eggs, oil, pineapple juice, vanilla, and fresh pineapple. Mix until combined, do not over mix.

Scoop batter into prepared pan, fill 3/4 full, and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Pineapple Smoothies

by Paula Deen, makes 2 smoothies

1 C. fresh pineapple
1 C. unsweetened coconut milk
1 banana
1/4 C. ice cubes
2 t. honey, or 1 packet stevia

Place the above ingredients in a blender, and puree until smooth.


Have a good night! Pin It

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Shavuot 2012 Recipe Ideas

Shavuot is almost here. In case you don't know, Shavuot is the Jewish holiday that commerates the anniversary of when G-d gave the jewish people the Torah. It is customary to eat foods containing dairy during this holiday.

My kids especially love Shavuot because we go to an ice cream party.

Last year I had good suggestions click here: Shavuot 2011

Here are some fresh and delish dairy recipes for you:

Boursin Stuffed Mushrooms

I had these at a friend's house, they were an explosion of deliciousness! Recipe is from Boursin.

1 (10 oz.) package mushrooms
2 T. butter, unsalted
1/4 C. onion, finely chopped
1/4 C. bread crumbs
1 package Boursin Garlic and herb flavor
1 T. fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove and chop mushroom stems. In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat and cook mushroom stems and onions, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until tender. In medium bowl, pour mushroom mixture over breadcrumbs. Stir in Boursin, parsley, salt and pepper. Evenly spoon mushroom mixture into mushroom caps; arrange on baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and golden.

Hot Artichoke Dip
This is a very addictive recipe my sister makes all the time. Watch out, I can eat the entire dish myself.

1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
3/4 C. Mayo
1/2 C. shredded parmesan cheese, optional
dash worcestershire sauce
dash of lemon juice
1/4 t. garlic powder, or freshly minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all of the above ingredients, and put into a 9 inch round or square baking dish. Sprinkle top with a handful more of grated parmesan, or a sprinkle of paprika. If you are leaving out the parmesan altogether, sprinkle the top with bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes, serve hot with assorted crackers.

Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Salad

By one of my favorite cookbook authors, Ina Garten.

1/4 C. freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 C. freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 C. minced shallots (1 large)
1 T. honey
1/2 C. olive oil
1t. kosher salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
6 C. baby arugula, washed and spun dry
1/8th seedless watermelon, rind removed, and cut in 1-inch cubes
12 ounces feta cheese, 1/2-inch diced
1 C. (4 ounces) whole fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced

Whisk together the orange juice, lemon juice, shallots, honey, salt, and pepper. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking constantly, to form an emulsion. If not using within an hour, store the vinaigrette covered in the refrigerator.
Place the arugula, watermelon,  feta, and mint in a large bowl. Drizzle with enough vinaigrette to coat the greens lightly and toss well. Taste for seasonings and serve immediately.

Salmon in Foil

By Giada de Laurentis

4 (5 oz. each) salmon fillets
2 t. olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tomatoes, chopped, or 1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, drained
2 chopped shallots
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Sprinkle salmon with 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir the tomatoes, shallots, 2 tablespoons of oil, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

Place a salmon fillet, oiled side down, atop a sheet of foil. Wrap the ends of the foil to form a spiral shape. Spoon the tomato mixture over the salmon. Fold the sides of the foil over the fish and tomato mixture, covering completely; seal the packets closed. Place the foil packet on a heavy large baking sheet. Repeat until all of the salmon have been individually wrapped in foil and placed on the baking sheet. Bake until the salmon is just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Using a large metal spatula, transfer the foil packets to plates and serve.

Parmesan Asparagus

1 lb. asparagus, trimmed
1 T. olive oil
kosher salt and pepper
1/4 C. parmesan cheese
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Lay the asparagus on the baking sheet, drizzle on the olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper, mix all around to coat the asparagus. Place in the oven for 10-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the stalks. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the parmesan. Place back in the oven for 1 more minute. Serve with lemon wedges.

Oreo Truffles
If you have never had these before, you are in for a huge treat!

45 chocolate sandwich cookies such as Oreos
1 package cream cheese, softened
2 bags, chocolate chips

Place 9 of the cookies in a medium ziploc. Place 36 of the cookies in a large ziploc. Using a skillet or a meat mallet (the flat side) Crush the cookies until fine.

Mix the contents of the larger baggy and the cream cheese until thoroughly combined.

Melt the chocolate over a double broiler, or in the microwave at 15 second intervals stirring between each time until melted.

Form the cookie mixture into 42 balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Drop the balls into the melted chocolate. Use a fork and shake of the excess. Place onto a sheet pan covered in parchment or wax paper. Place the truffles in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Store in the refrigerator.

Super Easy Key Lime Pie

The name says it all.

5 egg yolks, beaten
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 C. key lime juice
1 (9 in.) prepared graham cracker pie crust

Whipped cream, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together the egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, and key lime juice. Pour into the pie crust. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool, then serve with a dollop of whipped cream.


I have many more ideas flying around inside my head, feel free to consult me for ideas:

Have a great night!

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Guac This Way

Having a new baby means that I am breastfeeding around the clock (sorry male readers). Supposedly, you are supposed to eat an extra 500 calories a day while nursing. I'm pretty sure that I eat more than the suggested amount. I am starving ALL.THE.TIME.

Almost every night, I wake up around 3 and can't fall back to sleep because I'm so hungry. I then have to drag my tush out of bed and mosey to the pantry to get a protein bar or something. This is after I eat more than King Hock does at dinner.

My cravings now are far worse than when I was pregnant. I want weird combos of things like smoothies with pretzels in them, or guacamole with mango in it (both of which are awesome together).

For dinner tonight I satisfied the guac craving. We had Grilled Chicken Tacos with Mango Guacamole, Mexican Rice, and Mexican Roasted Squash and Zucchini.

Mango Guacamole

Here is my avocado secret: I buy them and let them ripen on the counter, once they are ripe, I store them in the refrigerator for up to a week. The ripe avocadoes that come out of the refrigerator are always nice and creamy.

This guacamole is good with chips or inside tacos and fajitas, I served it with marinated grilled chicken tacos.

juice of 1 lime
1 T. onion, minced
1 T. serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1 XL ripe avocado, or 2 small avocadoes
1 small mango, peeled and diced
1 T. fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. salt
pinch of black pepper

Squeeze the lime into a medium bowl. Add the onion and serrano pepper. Next add the avocado, and use a fork to mash. Now add the mango, cilantro, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mix until creamy. Optionally, garnish the top with more mango pieces and sprinkle with cilantro.

Mexican Rice

Why buy boxed rice when you can so easily make a fresher more delicious version?

1 T. olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1 C. rice
1/2 C. picante sauce or salsa
1/2 C. frozen peas
2 C. water
1/2 t. salt

In a medium sauce pan heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion. Saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the rice, and picante sauce. Next add the peas, water, and salt. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 20 minutes, take off the lid and stir with a fork, then replace the lid. Remove from the heat and let stand 10 minutes covered. Take off the lid and fluff with a fork, and serve immediately.

Mexican Roasted Squash and Zucchini

This is quick and easy and goes great with any Mexican dish.

2 yellow squash, cut in half lengthwise and then cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 zucchinis, cut in half lengthwise and then cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 red onion, chopped
1 T. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 t. cumin
1/4 t. chili powder

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, toss together the squash, zucchini, red onion, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder. Once the veggies are coated, place them in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Cook for 20 minutes. Taste a piece and add more salt and pepper if desired.


I gotta go, I'm already getting hungry.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Asian Turkey Meatballs

I'm exhausted. I've been going going going all day. I got up, got dressed, got boys dressed, fed everyone breakfast, and made lunches. I took the Princes to school, and then I was at the doctor with Baby Hock getting his shots (never fun). After that, I went to two groceries stores. Why is it that I can never get everything I need in one trip or at one store?

I brought my groceries home, had a bit of time to practice piano, and then had to pick the Princes up. Their time at school goes by quickly. Next, came the highlight of my day when my Mother in love and I went out for a late lunch and shopping.

I came home and rested for maybe 10 minutes (resting= lying down-getting up to get boys drinks-lying down cuddling with boys-getting up to check on baby-lying down-getting up never stops!), and then I got to work on our dinner. Great day. Great dinner.

We had Asian Turkey Meatballs, Szechuan Green Beans, and Edamame Brown Rice.

Here are the recipes:

Asian Turkey Meatballs

Kosher Hoisin sauce can be a bit tricky to find. I used Joyce Chen brand which can be found oddly enough at The Christmas Tree Store.
Recipe inspiration from Pinterest from the blog

1 lb. ground turkey
1 t. toasted sesame oil
1/2 C. panko or bread crumbs
1/4 t. ground ginger
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C. green onions thinly sliced

1/3 C. hoisin sauce
2 T. seasoned rice vinegar
1 clove garlic
1 T. soy sauce
1/2 t. sesame oil
1/2 t. ground ginger

2 green onions thinly sliced for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix together the ground turkey, sesame oil, panko, ground ginger, egg, garlic, and green onions. Form balls and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your meatball, until cooked through.

While the meatballs are baking, in a small sauce pan, combine the hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger. Stir and bring to a boil. Then turn off the heat.

Mix together the cooked meatballs and the sauce, and then sprinkle with green onions and serve.

Szechuan Green Beans

These are divine.
1 lb. fresh green beans, cut in halves
1/4 C. water
1 T. vegetable oil
1 T. fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 T. garlic, minced
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. seasoned rice vinegar
2 t. sugar
1/4 t. pepper

In a small bowl mix together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and pepper.

In a large frying pan place the green beans and water. Cover with a tight fitting lid turn the heat on high and let the green beans steam about 5 minutes until they are starting to get tender. Remove the lid and continue to cook until all of the water is evaporated.

Add the oil, ginger, and garlic. Stir fry stirring constantly so the garlic doesn't burn for 2 minutes. Next, add the soy sauce mixture. Let it come to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes more until the sauce has thickened a bit, and the green beans are tender crisp. Taste a green bean and check to see if it needs salt or pepper, and season to taste.

Edamame Brown Rice

This is a Martha Stewart recipe.

1 1/2 C. water
pinch salt
3/4 C. long grain brown rice
1 1/4 C. frozen shelled edamame
1 T. fresh lime juice
1 T. rice vinegar
1 1/2 t. toasted sesame oil
1/2 t. sugar
3 scallions or green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

In a medium sauce pan bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the rice and cover with a tight fitting lid, lower heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes.

Stir in the edamame, and recover and cook for 15 more minutes or until the rice is tender. In a small bowl mix together the lime juice, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar.

With a fork, stir in the lime juice mixture and scallions. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


P.S. I actually made 2 dinners. The boys had macaroni and cheese, carrot sticks, hummus, ranch, apple slices, apple sauce with sprinkles (of course!), and popsicles.

GOOD night!

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Crispy Smashed Potatoes, Insane Bars, and more

I almost titled this post Breaded Gefilte Fish, but I was pretty sure no one would read it.

When I say gefilte fish, what do you think of?

Do you picture a glass jar filled with juice, jelly, and balls of stinky unappetizing fish? Yup, I used to envision gefilte fish just like that, that is until I was introduced to a delicious completely different version.

I remember my first Shabbat dinner at the Rabbi's house 8 years ago. Shabbat dinners were completely foreign to me. It was already late by the time we sat down to eat, I was super hungry. The Rabbi has 8 children, and they were sitting so nicely despite the fact it was past their bedtimes. Before we started eating, we went through a series of songs and prayers, I was thinking are we ever going to eat?

The first thing we ate was the Challah, it was the best challah I had ever had. Next came the salad and fish course, there were several different salads and gefilte fish, everything was served family style. As King Hock passed me the gefilte fish, I made a face and said no thank you.

He told me I had to try it, that is was delicious. He was right, I loved it. I ate two servings.

The next course was soup, I was already full, but I didn't pass it up. After that came two kinds of chicken, kugels, vegetables, and rice. I had never seen so much food. As we ate, we had intelligent coversations about anything and everything.

Finally, there was dessert and fruit. I could barely walk out the door I was so stuffed.

When we left, my mind, body, and spirit felt completely nourished.

That night is forever stuck mind, it made me realize so many things. First, I wanted to start having Shabbat dinners. Second, that I had so much to learn about my religion in which I knew so little. Third, that I want to have lots of children.

Making Shabbat dinner every week is hard work, but worth the effort. Tonight we are having a special Shabbat dinner because my Mother-in-Law is in town.

Here is what we are having:

1. Challah
2. Breaded Gefilte Fish, recipe below
3. Strawberry Mango Green Salad
4. Cabbage Salad
5. Chicken Marbella
6. Crispy Smashed Potatoes, recipe below
7.  Lemon Garlic Roasted Broccoli, recipe below
8.  Sugar Cookie Bars, obsessed made these 3 times in one week
9.  Insane Bars, recipe below
10. Fruit Salad

Breaded Gefilte Fish

This recipe is from a friend, who got it from another friend. I told my kids it was like fish sticks, and I let them dip it in ketchup.

1 loaf frozen gefilte fish, I use Ungars, can be found in the Kosher freezer section at the Kosher Grocery Store
1/4 C. mayo
1 C. bread crumbs, I used panko

Preheat the oven to 350 degree. Spray a baking sheet with non stick spray. Place the breadcrumbs on a plate.

Run the frozen loaf under water to remove the paper wrapper. Brush the gefilte fish with the mayo. Then roll in the bread crumbs. Use your hands to press the bread crumbs in so the loaf is completely covered in crumbs.

Bake for 2 hours. Remove from the oven. Let cool on the counter for 30 minutes. Place in the refrigerator for several hours, so that it is completely chilled to serve. Slice into 12 slices and serve with horseradish, I prefer the kind with beets (particularly Mealmart brand if you can find it).

Crispy Smashed Potatoes

I'm going to warn you, you will not be able to stop eating these. Adapted from the Pioneer Woman

New potatoes, choose small sized ones if you can
3 T. olive oil
kosher or coarse salt
3 green onions, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 450. Brush a sheet pan with some olive oil

Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Put the pot on the stove and bring to a boil, cook until they can be pierced with a fork.

Place the cooked potatoes on the prepared sheet pan about 1 inch apart. Use a potato masher and gently press down until it is slightly mashed, then turn the masher the other direction and do it again. Brush the tops generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20-25 minutes until crusty and golden brown. Sprinkle with the sliced green onions and serve.

Lemon Garlic Roasted Broccoli

Sorry Merrill (my brother in law who is coming tonight) I know you don't eat garlic.This recipe is from, The. Best. Broccoli. Ever!

2 heads broccoli, cut into florets
2 t. olive oil
1 t. salt, sea salt is best
1/2 t. pepper
1 clove garlic
1/2  lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl mix together the broccoli florets, olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. Lay in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the stem can be pierced easily with a fork. Remove from the oven and squeeze the lemon juice over it, and serve.

Insane Bars

I named these Insane Bars because they are just that. I didn't make this recipe up, it is all over the internet and Pinterest.

1 box Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge brownies
2 eggs
1/4 C. water
1/2 C. oil
Oreos- 1 package
1 C. margarine or butter, at room temperature
1 C. sugar
¾ C. light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla extract
2½ C. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 cups (12 oz.)  chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with non stick spray. Then line with parchment paper, then spray the parchment paper with non stick spray.

Prepare the brownie batter, with the brownie mix, the 2 eggs, 1/4 C. water, and 1/2 C. oil. Set Aside.

Prepare the cookie dough: Cream together the margarine, sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy with a mixer. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix until combined. Then add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix until dough is formed. Last, mix in the chocolate chips.

Press the cookie dough evenly  into the bottom of the prepared pan. Then line up oreos completely covering the cookie dough. Now pour on the brownie batter.

Bake for 45-55 minutes. Let cook at room temperature, then cut into bars.


Have a nice weekend!

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Grilled Artichokes

I had planned on blogging this recipe last night, that was until we went out to dinner and I got drunk on 2 glasses of wine. I know I'm a lightweight. We went to a cute French place up the street, it's one of my favorite restaurants. (Think cheese plates, hot french bread with olive tapenade, pomme frites, apple tarte tatin, and souffles).

 Another favorite restaurant of mine is Houston's. I swear everything on the menu there is good. I think it's because they put magic powder on their food. I absolutely cannot go there without ordering their Grilled Artichokes. They don't always have them on their menu because artichokes are seasonal.

About 10 years ago I tried to recreate the recipe with no success. After that, I gave up trying because I figured they were doing something magical like they do with all of their food.

When I saw a grilled artichoke recipe here:
I decided to give it another shot, and I was not sorry, these were incredible!

Grilled Artichokes

2-4 artichokes
2 lemons, quartered
4 cloves garlic
2 T. salt

3 T. olive oil
1 T. steak sauce (I didn't have, so I just used worcestershire sauce)
2 t. Montreal Steak Seasoning
2 t. balsamic vinegar

Fill a large pot of water with 2 inches of water, 2 T. salt, and 4 cloves of garlic, and one lemon cut into quarters. Cut the bottom off of the artichokes so that they can stand up. Then use kitchen shears and cut the sharp part off of the tips of the leaves. Next with a very sharp knife, cut the artichokes into quarters, immediately rub with a piece of lemon to prevent discoloration. Place the artichoke quarters into the pot of water. Place on the stove and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil, and then boil for 8 minutes, or until the heart can be pierced easily with a fork. Drain into a colander.

Mix together the olive oil, steak sauce, Montreal seasoning, and balsamic vinegar.

Place the artichoke quarters into a bowl, and pour over the olive oil mixture.

Heat the grill to medium heat, and place the quarters onto the hot grill. Turn over every 5 minutes or until all sides are nicely charred, or to your liking.

Serve with Dipping Sauce:

Houston's Artichoke Dipping Sauce

This is my version of the sauce they serve at Houston's with their artichokes.

1 C. mayonaise
1 1/2 T. sweet relish
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t. capers
1/2 t. dijon mustard
1 1/2 t. lemon juice
1/2 t. worcestershire sauce
pinch of salt and pepper

Mix together the above ingredients, store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


Talk to you later.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Barbecue Chicken Flatbreads

I'm 28 years old (born in 1983) which means the majority of my childhood memories take place in the 90's.

"What we're going to do right here is go back, way back, back into time**" the nineties. If you are of my generation you will totally get this.

Remember wearing overalls? They were even cooler if you walked around with one strap undone.

How about watching videos on a VCR, listening to a Walkman, or playing Super Mario Brothers on a Super Nintendo?

Remember watching Full House, Saved by the Bell, Home Improvement, Double Dare, and Clarissa Explains it All?

What about trading Pogs, and collecting Beanie Babies? I bet your Beanie Baby collection is worth a ton of money today, not!

Remember when California Pizza Kitchen was the coolest restaurant, and their Barbecue Chicken Pizza was the best thing you ever ate? 

All of those other fads I mentioned above, I'm so over, but I never got over my love for BBQ Chicken Pizza.

Since nowadays I don't mix milk and meat, I created a yummy version: Barbecue Chicken Flatbread, which I made tonight, as well as Grilled Artichokes with Special Sauce (I'll share that recipe with you very soon), and the Easiest Ever Corn on the Cob.

Here are the recipes:

Barbecue Chicken Flatbread- makes 4 pizzas

Making your own crust is the most delicious, but feel free to use store bough pizza crust, flat bread, or tortillas. This crust recipe is made with a bread machine, and would be excellent for any homemade pizza.

Dough- 1 recipe
Barbecue Chicken- 1 recipe
Barbecue Sauce
1 Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch of fresh Cilantro, minced

1 1/4 C. water
2 T. olive oil
1 t. honey
1 3/4 t. salt
3 C. bread flour, all purpose will work if you don't have bread
2 1/4 t. active dry yeast

Place the above ingredients into the bowl of your bread machine in the order listed above starting with the water. Turn on the dough cycle.

When the dough cycle ends, remove the dough from the machine and cut into 4 equal parts. Roll each part into a ball, place the balls next to each other almost touching on the counter and cover with a dish towel. Let rest for 30 minutes. Then use your hands to strectch the dough into 4 very thin circles. Cover with the toppings: barbecue sauce, chicken, and red onion.

barbecue chicken:
4 chicken breast, boneless skinless
barbecue sauce, I used KC Masterpiece, use your favorite

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking dish with non stick spray. Place the chicken breast inside the baking dish and cover the breasts with the sauce. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the center is no longer pink. Remove from the oven and thinly slice.

To assemble and cook the pizza:
Raise the oven temperature to 500 degrees. Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Pour a few tablespoons of barbecue sauce onto one of the flattened dough rounds. Use a spoon and spread the edges. Then sprinkle on the barbecue chicken, and the sliced red onion.
Bake for 10 minutes, until the edges are browned.
Remove from the oven, and sprinkle with fresh cilantro.

Easiest Ever Corn on the Cob

In my book corn is a vegetable, I try to make it a lot because it is one of the few veggies my kids will eat. After seeing this cooking technique on Pinterest, I had to give it a try. Well what do you know? It worked and it was great!

Corn on the cob leave the husks on

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stick the corn into the oven with the husks on. Bake for 25 minutes. Once cool enough to handle remove the husk and silk, it will come off easily.


I wonder if in 20 years from now we will look back like we do now, and think the same thing...What were we thinking?!

Have a good night!

**Intro to a song I loved called Don't Leave by Blackstreet, it was
popular in the 90's.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sugar Cookie Bars and Tomato Basil Tilapia

To preface this post, instead of saying G-d, Jewish people refer to him as Hashem in casual circumstances. The Torah forbids us from saying the word G-d when not in prayer.

A few months ago I was shopping at Whole Foods with the Princes. As we were loading the groceries into the car, the door slammed shut on it's own, which took us all by surprise. When they asked me who closed the door, I told them Hashem. They started laughing hysterically, they thought that was so funny.

That remark has come to bite me in the tush. Now, I constantly hear them use the saying:

Who tooted? Hashem did.

Who peed in the (empty) bathtub? Hashem did.

Who peed all over the floor? Hashem did.

Who made this mess? Hashem did.

Who ate half the pan of the sugar cookie bars? Hashem did.

Well, one thing is for sure, it wasn't Hashem. But, I will tell you I would eat half a pan of those sugar cookie bars too.

Sugar Cookie Bars

1 stick margarine or butter
1 C. sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 1/2 C. flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda

1 can Pillsbury vanilla frosting
food coloring- your choice of color

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 7x11 pyrex with non stick spray.

In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the margarine and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix until combined. Mix in the flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix until dough comes together.

Put the dough into the pyrex and use your hand to pat evenly to fill the inside.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the edges are golden brown, 20 minutes if you like it doughy, 25 for more cookie like.

Once the cookie has cooled, mix a few drops of food coloring into the icing. Spread the icing on top of the cookie, I only used half of the can. Then sprinkle with sprinkles. To serve, cut into squares.

Even though this afternoon I snacked on a HUGE portion of the sugar cookie bars, I was starving for dinner. My dinner was simple and excellent, I made: Tomato Basil Tilapia, Green Bean Almondine, Portobello Pilaf.

Here are the recipes:

Tomato Basil Tilapia

This amazing recipe is Paula Deen's, I just added my own colorful touch by using red, orange, and yellow tomatoes. This would be good to serve to company because it is simple to make, but looks super fancy.

2 (8 oz.) tilapia fillets
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 T. fresh basil, minced (I used more because I love basil)
1 t. fresh oregano, minced
1 t. onion powder
1 t. minced garlic
3 T. olive oil
1 large tomato, or 3 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a shallow 1 quart baking dish with non stick spray.

Sprinkle the fish evenly with salt and pepper. Arrange it in the baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the basil, oregano, onion powder, and garlic. Drizzle with 2 T. olive oil. Arrange the tomato slices on the top, and drizzle with remaining 1 T. olive oil.

Bake until tilapia flakes easily with a fork, about 20-25 minutes. Squeeze the lemon juice over the fish and serve immediately.

Green Beans Almondine

This classic dish is so easy to prepare and goes great with just about anything.

1 lb. French Green Beans
2 T. sliced almonds
2 T. margarine or butter
1 t. lemon juice
salt and pepper

Steam the green beans in a pan filled with 1 inch of water until crisp tender.

Melt the margarine in a saute pan over low heat. Add the almonds and cook until golden brown stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. Pour over the green beans, and mix around to combine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Portobello Pilaf

I was planning on making plain rice, that was until I realized I had a portobello mushroom that was about to go bad, and then I came up with this recipe. It rocked, I will be making this all the time now.

1 T. olive oil
1/2 small onion, diced
1 portobello mushroom, diced in 1/2 inch pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. dried thyme
1 T. margarine or butter
1 C. jasmine rice
1 1/2 C. water

Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan, over medium. Add the onion and saute until it softens a little, 5 minutes. Add the diced mushroom and cook stirring occasionally until it starts to release it's liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Then add the salt, thyme, margarine, rice, and water. Stir to combine, raise heat and bring to a boil, lower heat until it is simmering. Place a tight fitting lid on it, and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand covered 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste.


All this Hashem talk...I was driving the boys home from school the other day and one of them asked me why did Hashem create the world? I didn't really know a good answer to the question. I'll leave you with that to ponder.


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Monday, May 14, 2012

Pretzel Crusted Chicken Fingers

I've got to make this blog post quick because the Bachelorette starts tonight, and I can't wait to watch it. I'm not a huge TV watcher, this will actually be the first show I have watched in months (not counting the Shark Tank show King Hock subjects me to on a nightly basis). I'm a huge dork because I would rather read a book than watch the tube.

I've definitely had my fair share of TV obsessions in the past, Lost, Big Love, and Weeds to name a few. Oh and I can't forget American Idol, The Tudors, America's Next Top Model, and Top Chef.

At this point in my life, at the end of a long day, all I want to do is read and go to bed.

Today was one of those long days, I'm pretty surprised I managed to cook our awesome dinner. I made Pretzel Crusted Chicken Fingers with Honey Mustard Sauce, Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries, and Spinach Cucumber Salad.

The Pretzel Crusted Chicken kept coming on my radar from Rachel Ray to Pinterest, I had to try to it. The end was result didn't have much pretzely flavor, but it was still great, I mean how could it not be,  it was fried.

Here are the recipes:

Pretzel Crusted Chicken Fingers

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/2 bag (15 oz.) pretzels
pinch of salt and pepper
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. dried thyme
2 eggs
vegetable oil for frying

Pulse the pretzels in a blender until they are like bread crumbs. You can make them coarse or fine, however you want. Place the crumbs in a bowl. Mix in the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and thyme.

Crack the eggs in a bowl and whisk. Dip the chicken in the eggs, and then in the bread crumb mixture. Set aside on a plate.

Pour the oil into a large nonstick fry pan about 1/2 inch high. Heat over medium heat, for 5 minutes. Add the chicken strips and cook 4-5 minutes per side until browned and crisp. You will have to do a few batches. Make sure the chicken is cooked through by cutting into one and checking that there is no pink.

Serve with honey mustard sauce.

Honey Mustard Sauce

I didn't precisely measure, I just guestimated.

1/4 C. mayo
1 t. fresh lemon juice
1 T. yellow mustard
1 1/2 t. dijon mustard
1 T. honey

Mix all of the above ingredients together until completely combined.

Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Ah ha! I've finally figured out the secret to making crispy baked sweet potato fries. I used Japanese sweet potatoes which are similar in flavor to a regular sweet potato, but they aren't orange.

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into sticks
1 egg white
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Soak the potato sticks in a bowl of water for 30 minutes.
Pour out the water, and pat the potatoes dry.
Whip the egg white until foamy. Mix the potatoes with the egg white. Lay the potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and paprika.
Place in the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes, until crisp, turning the potatoes over half way through. Then lower the oven to 200 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Spinach Cucumber Salad

I'm always up for a good fresh salad. I found myself shoving my face with this one.

1 (5 oz.) package baby spinach
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
3 green onions, thinly sliced


2 T. white vinegar
1/4 C. olive oil
1/4 C. sugar
pinch salt
pinch paprika
swig of worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 t. dried minced onion
1 T. toasted sesame seeds
1 1/2 t. poppy seeds

Using an immersion blender, blend together the vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, paprika, worcestershire sauce, and dried minced onion, until emulsified. Stir in the sesame and poppy seeds. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Place the spinach, cucumbers, and green onions in a salad bowl. Pour over part of the dressing and toss to combine. Serve immediately.


Have a good night!

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day, A special treat for my mom

This post is dedicated to my mom in honor of Mother's Day. I love you Mom, you are my best friend and my partner in crime. I'm so thankful for you and all that you do.

My mom is a lover of all things French: Hermes, Monet, Goyard, Croissants, Pierre Deux, Crepes, and well basically any French pastry.

Sadly, she stopped eating gluten recently, which crossed off just about every pastry that exists. Except for her favorite one. The one she dreams about. The one that she would never attempt to make because it's an art form. The one you see beautifully displayed in all the windows in Paris.The one that Laduree sells, which are the best in the world. It's the French Macaron.

Imagine biting into something slightly crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, and filling your mouth with sweet delicious flavor, that's a macaron. And, let's get this straight, these are never to be confused with nasty Passover macaroons.

Tonight we are having dinner at my parent's house to celebrate Mom's Day. When we finish dinner, I'm planning on surprising my mom with some Strawberry Macarons I made today. She is going to be beside herself!

See the recipe:

Strawberry French Macarons

I think this recipe makes around 2 dozen, I'm not sure though because my cookie monster was eating them left and right before I had a chance to count. The finished ones are now hiding on top of the refrigerator, so there will still be some left to take to my mom tonight.

You can buy almond flour, but it costs $14 for a small bag. I suggest making it yourself.

3/4 C. almond flour- see directions below
1 C. powdered sugar
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/8 t. cream of tartar
1/4 C. superfine sugar

strawberry jam

To make the almond flour: place slivered almonds (blanched- without the peel) in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until a finely ground, don't pulse too much or the oils will release and it will get pasty. Once the almonds are ground, put into a sieve or sifter, and sift over a bowl, do this two times.

Place the almond flour, and powdered sugar in the bowl of a food processor, and mix until combined. Then sift this mixture 2 times.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl whip the egg whites until foamy (use the whisk attachment if you have it). Add the cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form. Then reduce the speed to low, and add the sugar, and then increase the speed to high. Whisk until stiff peaks form, about 5-8 minutes. Sift the flour mixture over the whites. Fold the flour into the whites, and fold until the mixture is smooth, and thoroughly mixed.

Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4 inch circles 1 inch apart on the baking sheets. You can wet your finger and press down any peaks, to make sure the circle is completely flat. Tap the baking sheet on the counter to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Place one sheet in the oven and reduce the heat to 325 degrees. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn the sheet pan and bake 5 more minutes (a total on 10 minutes baking time). Remove from the oven, and let stand on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack. If the macaron doesn't release, you can spray water underneath the parchment on the hot sheet, and the steam will help release them, mine came off easily though.

Raise the temp. back to 375, and repeat the same baking process of lowering the heat to 325, and baking 10 minutes with the second sheet.

Once they have cooled off, sandwich 2 same sized macarons with the strawberry jam.

Best if served immediately.


Here is what Prince Hock #1 made at school for me for Mother's Day, melts my heart.

Happy Mother's Day!

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Pajama Shabbat

Whenever we don't invite any friends over on Friday nights, I refer to it as pajama shabbat.
Every afternoon after I've ran around dressed all morning, I get comfy, I take off my jewelry and put my pajamas on. I can't imagine what King Hock thinks when he gets home from work everyday, and I greet him in my holey t-shirt and ratty sweat pants. Although, I will say that when I look my worst (no makeup, and natural curly hair) he tells me I look hot. Hmmmmm...

 So I'm sitting here in my lovely pajamas for Shabbat tonight. I'm about to bathe the boys, and then they will be in their pjs. I'm pretty sure King Hock will get home, see our attire, and join us by putting his pajamas on as well.

I decided to keep my menu short this week since it's only us, and I didn't want to be in the kitchen all day. Also, I had much more important things to do like shop at my new favorite jewelry store Kendra Scott. Check out the website her stuff is awesome:

Back to my menu, I went with a Greek theme:

1. Everything Challah- my newest creation
2. Moussaka
3. Grecian Potatoes
4. Greek Salad
5. Chocolate Bundt Cake and Fruit

Here are a few recipes for you:

Everything Challah

The idea to make everything challah came a few weeks ago. I was sick in bed on a Friday, and the Rebbetzin kindly dropped off some of her very famous challah, which she had topped with dried minced onion. King Hock went nuts, he said it reminded him of an everything bagel, and I should make everything challah. This is great slathered in cream cheese.

1 recipe Challah- any recipe works fine
egg wash, I prefer to use yolks only
dried minced onion
dried minced garlic
poppy seeds
sesame seeds
caraway seeds (yuck!)- if you like...

After your challah has been braided, cover and let it rise until doubled in size. Remove the cover, and brush with the egg wash. Then sprinkle on the minced onion, minced garlic, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds. Bake according to your recipe.


This is the Greek version of Lasagna, it has less carbs since the meat sauce is layered with eggplant, not noodles. Lots of steps, but well worth the effort. So delish!

1 large eggplant, peeled, and cut into 1/2 inch slices

2 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1- 1.5 lbs. ground beef
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. garlic powder
1 t. dried oregano
2 T. tomato paste
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
1/4 C. red wine

3 T. margarine
2 T. all purpose flour
2 C. soy milk, plain unsweetened
3 eggs, whisked
1/2 t. salt

2 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 C. panko, Japanese breadcrumbs, can use regular bread crumbs if you want to

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 7x11 pyrex with non stick spray.

2. Place the slices of eggplant on a paper towel, sprinkle with salt, and then top with another paper towel. Place something heavy on top of it like a pan. Let stand for 20 minutes. This will draw out the bitterness.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the onion. Saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the ground beef, and cook until browned. Then add the salt, pepper, cinnamon, garlic powder, oregano, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and red wine. Stir all together, and then simmer for 15 minutes. Taste to check if it needs more salt or pepper.

4. Lay half of the eggplant slices in the bottom of the prepared pyrex. Pour the meat over. Then top with the remaining eggplant slices.

5. In a medium sauce pan, melt the margarine. Stir in the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Then add the soy milk, whisk until smooth, and then whisk for 2 more minutes while simmering. Take 2 T. of the hot liquid and mix into the eggs to temper them, so they don't scramble. Now, add the egg mixture to the pot, and whisk constantly and bring to a low boil. As soon as you see small bubbles, remove from the stove.

6. Pour the creamy sauce over the eggplant. Arrange the tomato slices on the top, and sprinkle on the bread crumbs.

7. Cover loosely with foil, and bake for 1 hour. Then remove the foil and bake 15 more minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

Greek Roasted Potatoes serves 6-8, can be halved

8 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges (7 wedges per potato)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C. olive oil
1 C. water
1 T. dried oregano
1 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Spray a 9x13 baking dish or pan with nonstick spray.

Place the potatoes in the pan, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Then pour on the rest of the ingredients. Toss all together until completely combined.

Place in the oven for 40 minutes, after 40 minutes or after a golden brown crust has formed. , turn the potatoes over, to brown the other side, add 1/2 c. more water if necessary. Sprinkle with a bit more oregano, salt, and pepper.

Bake another approx. 40 minutes, until the other side is golden brown.


Have a sweet weekend!

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How Lee Hock Got Her Groove Back

Oh hi!

Remember me?

I'm still here, I've just been taking a break from the extravagant cookery. I know it's been a while since my last post, but I have a good reason for that...

At the end of February, we welcomed Prince Hock #3 into our lives. Between a newborn and 2 rambucous kiddos, you can imagine how busy I've been.

The first blissful weeks home with the new baby passed in a sleepless blur. Thankfully, many of our friends brought us dinners, and I didn't even have to think about cooking.

Once Passover came, I had no choice but ante up. I returned to my abandoned oasis (a.k.a. the kitchen) with unadulterated love. Suprisingly, I made some new blog worthy recipes, I was just too exhausted to follow through with blogging them.

Slowly but surely, I have been cooking more. And with each passing day the recipes are getting more complicated. Everyday for the past 2 weeks I have been baking like a mad woman, take that as a good sign. Just today I baked banana bread, sugar cookies, and peanut butter chocolate chip dough balls.

Now I sit here holding the newest love of my life (he is smiling at me this instant (the best!)). As he is starting to only wake up once or twice a night, my brain is returning to normal. Which means my mind is racing with recipe ideas and possibilities.

I can't make any promises to blog incessantly, but I will try to periodically give you some new recipes. And for now, I'll leave you with an insanely good recipe that I've already made twice this week.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Dough Balls

This recipe is adapted from the vegan blog

1 stick margarine, I used Best Life brand
3/4 C. Smooth Peanut Butter, I suggest Skippy Natural
1/2 C. firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 C. powdered sugar
1 1/2 C. all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 C. chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degreees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With an electric mixer, cream together the margarine, peanut butter, the brown and powdered sugar, until thoroughly combined and creamy.

2. Add the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix until all combined and comes together. Then mix in the chocolate chips. Once combined, chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking.

3.  If you like to eat cookie dough feel free to stop here, otherwise, bake them with the following intstructions for a dough ball cookie:

Using a cookie scoop, be sure and compact the dough tight into the scooper, and place scoops on baking sheet. If you don't have a cookie scoop, use your hands to make small balls of dough and place on the cookie sheet.
*NOTE- if your dough seems dry and too crumbly (it won't come together after packing it in the cookie scoop) you may want to add a 1-2 Tablespoons of water to the dough and mix until it comes together when combined. If you accidentally add too much water the dough balls will be more like cookies, but still taste good.

4. Bake for exactly 10 minutes. The cookies will look soft and similar to how they looked going in, but don't overbake them. Let them rest on for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

***UPDATE: The third time I made these, I baked them at 325 degrees, and I scooped the dough into balls and froze the unbaked balls for 24 hrs. before I baked them. The results were even better, if you can imagine.

And now introducing Prince Hock #3:
Talk to you hopefully sooner than later!

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