Channukah Food Gifts…

On my father’s side of the family we started giving each other food gifts for Channukah. As the oldest cousin, and the only one keeping kosher, I decided to show them that there are actually some really good kosher foods out there… This year I decided to make some easy & delicious desserts paired with a really great food find.

  1. Candied Pecans… This recipe is super easy and tastes great! I just made it for my school pot luck too! The left over sugar stuck to the parchment paper is pretty amazing so this time I saved it and used it in my #2 recipe…unnamed-15.jpg
  2. Toasted coconut bark… First cover your baking sheet with parchment paper, then toast shredded sweetened coconut in a 350*F oven until it begins to brown. Mix  to prevent it from burning. It is done when most of it is golden brown. Move the toasted coconut to another container, then cover the pan with mini chocolate chips (Enjoy Life is the best one- 3 bags was perfect to cover my cookie sheet). Place in the hot oven for 3-5 minutes until the chocolate chips are melted. Take out of the oven and mix/smooth with a fork or spoon. Sprinkle the leftover sugar crumbs from the candied pecans. Then sprinkle the toasted coconut and a dash of cinnamon and a light dash of salt. Be liberal with the coconut and with another piece of parchment paper, press it in to the chocolate. Leave it out overnight  until it is solid. Then break it up & wrap it up really pretty 🙂
    unnamed-14.jpg
  3. Since I live in the great state of MD, I was fortunate enough to find these DELICIOUS salted caramels, that are CHOLOV YISROEL, in my local grocery store when they were advertising some new local products. Needless to say, I bought all 4 of the remaining packages…Shays_6ozCaramelPouch_SeaSalt.jpg

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

When I am with family, especially for a food centered gathering like Thanksgiving, I always try to bring a few foods that I can share with everyone else. This cake is one of my FAVORITES. Also… just so you know, Coffee cake is a cake eaten with coffee, NOT necessarily a cake made with coffee…

Ingredients:

  • 8 TBSP butter (or earth balance)- room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8th tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 TBSP butter (or earth balance)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  • Cream the butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Slowly mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon until well combined.
  • Pour half the cake batter in a baking pan then sprinkle with half the sugar and cinnamon mixture.
  • Spoon the remaining cake batter on top of the cinnamon sugar layer then finish it off by sprinkling more of the cinnamon sugar layer on top.
  • Bake at 350*F for 35-40 minutes until cooked through.

This one is on my to do list for tomorrow night so I’ll post the picture then 🙂

Double Wrapped Vegetable Lasagna

unnamed-1.jpg

Growing up my father made the VERY BEST vegetable lasagna. It was such a staple in our house that I was genuinely shocked, and already 20 years old, when I found out that traditional lasagna was actually made with meat. My dad still makes the best lasagna and that’s what’s on the menu for Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. Since everyone will be enjoying lasagna, I don’t want to miss out so I’m going to be enjoying my own single serving lasagna too. But since I’ve already got a TON to do, I’m going super easy with this lasagna… I’ll assemble it before I leave and then throw it in an oven double wrapped in foil once I get to the cabin.

Ingredients:

  • Oven ready lasagna noodles (mine were spinach flavor hence the green in the picture)
  • Your favorite tomato sauce
  • Zucchini- sliced thinly
  • Big handful of spinach
  • Sweet Potato thinly sliced
  • Feta cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Shredded cheese- I used munster, mozzarella would have been good too

Directions:

  • Soak the lasagna noodles according to the package directions (mine said to soak in warm water for 1 minute)
  • Put a spoonful or two of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan and place one layer of noodles on top – I used a small disposable aluminum pan
  • Chop or rip the spinach and mix with the feta cheese and sour cream ( I mixed it in a ziplock bag… I told you I love this trick!) You could also add some tofu into this mix if you are looking for more protein. Spread the creamy spinach & feta mixture on top of the first layer of lasagna noodles.
  • Add a little sauce on top and add the next layer of lasagna noodles. Put a spoonful or two of sauce and sour cream then add a layer of zucchini with more sauce.
  • Add the last layer of lasagna noodles and some more sauce and shredded cheese. Wrap with foil, and then wrap with a second layer of foil. Then bake in a 350*F pre-heated oven for 45minutes if you like your veg & noodles ‘al dente’ or for 1 hour for softer lasagna.

Alternative… you could thinly slice sweet potatoes for another layer!- Be sure to bake for between 1 and 1 1/2 hours if you do use sweet potatoes to give them a chance to really cook.

I’m not gonna lie, my dad’s lasagna is still better, but at least I have a good enough substitute :)…

*EDIT*

After making it for my pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday night meal, I edited the recipe to include sour cream in the mix… I had some extra after the sour cream cake so I decided it couldn’t hurt. Let me tell you, not only did it not hurt, but it totally took this lasagna from ‘okay enough’ to WOW WOW WOW!!! I’ve still got some sour cream left so you can bet I am going to prepare a few more of these to store in the freezer for another make shift meal 🙂

Salmon with “Honey” Mustard Glaze

unnamed-2.jpg

 

This salmon is easy, can be made whole 30 approved, and can be baked either open or double wrapped. It tastes best fresh, but I’ve been known to make a few days worth in advance…

Ingredients:

  • Fresh salmon (you can use frozen if it’s all you have, but regarding fish, I’m a snob so it’s gotta be fresh!)
  • Your favorite mustard
  • Honey (or date sugar /fresh dates blended into a paste if you are into the whole no processed sugar thing/whole 30)

Directions:

Rinse your salmon and using a knife against the grain, scratch the scales off the skin of the fish and rinse again. Mix equal parts mustard and honey/date sugar/date paste in a ziplock bag and add your salmon. Let the fish marinade for at least an hour, or over night in the fridge. Bake on parchment paper at 400*F for 10-15 minutes (if double wrapping in foil, add an additional 10 minutes and make sure your oven is fully pre-heated)

Enjoy!

My new favorite Meatloaf

unnamed-21.jpg

Meatloaf is one of my favorite foods. This recipe is whole 30 approved (thank you baby sistah & brother in law!) and includes some tricks for when you have limited kosher tools 🙂 *Spoiler alert: ziplock bags!*

Disclaimer: I used two different ground meats because I had them and because as much as I like lamb, sometimes its a bit strong so I like to mix it with something lighter. You could easily make this with just ground turkey or ground beef. If you do make this with just ground beef, I might add more sweet potato… maybe, but that’s just me.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb ground turkey
  • 3/4 lb ground meat (I used lamb, you could use ground beef)
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled & cut very small
  • 2 TBSP flax seed powder (or 1/2 cup oats)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce (I used Paesanna’s Sicillian gravy)
  • 2 Dates cut small
  • 1 Shallot finely sliced
  • Pinch of salt & pepper
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 5-6 dates cut small (or 1/4 cup brown sugar)
  • 2 TBSP dijon mustard

Tools:

  • One good knife
  • One paper plate
  • clear cup for checking egg
  • 2 Ziplock bags
  • Aluminum pan
  • Optional: parchment paper

Directions:

Using the knife and paper plate, start by finely chopping the sweet potato, shallots, and first two dates. In the first ziplock bag, combine the finely chopped sweet potato, shallots and dates with the two ground meats, flax seed powder, egg, 1/4 cup of tomato sauce and a dash of salt and pepper. Press out as much air as you can, then seal the bag up and squeeze, smush etc until you’ve got everything all nicely mixed up 🙂

Then line your aluminum tin with parchment paper and form two loaves from your meat mixture. Bake uncovered at 350*F for 45 minutes. In the meantime, take the second ziplock bag and add the remaining ingredients: 1/2 cup tomato sauce, finely cut dates and mustard. Close and mix in the same way you did the other bag. Try to get the date pieces as small and fully mixed in as possible so the flavor spreads more evenly. After the meatloaf has baked for 45 minutes, take it out and cut the corner of the ziplock bag with the sauce in it. Pipe the sauce on to both loaves and spread it so each is evenly covered, then put them back in the oven for another 15 minutes.

I am going to try to figure out the timing for making this recipe double wrapped in the oven for those who don’t have a kosher oven at your disposal… stay tuned 🙂

*UPDATE* When making this recipe, double wrapped in aluminum foil in an oven, add an additional 20-30 minutes. You will see that there is a lot more liquid in the pan, but it’s just as tasty!

Here is the picture step by step 🙂

unnamed-16.jpg

Look how tiny I cut the sweet potato! The last time I made this recipe I was home and was able to use my food processor… I think all things considered, I did a good job getting this guy pretty tiny 🙂

unnamed-17.jpg

Everything is in the bag now, all that’s left is to close and smush it all together!

unnamed-18.jpg

Pretty little loaves ready for the oven!

unnamed-19.jpg

After the first baking! Notice how the shallots are on top? Yea… I forgot to include them in the meat mixture… it’s never too late!

unnamed-20.jpg

Using my mixing bag as a piping bag… yay for no dishes! Hooray for ziplock!

unnamed-21.jpg

It’s all done! If you noticed that the cut loaf looks shorter than just the one piece that’s missing… you might be right… and I just might have eaten some… what can I say, I could’t resist! 🙂

Oven Baked Rice

29debb38-701b-4a3a-ab91-249e7d991ccf.jpg

Cooking in a non-kosher kitchen has it’s challenges. While it is ideal to kasher ovens or stovetops, sometimes that isn’t possible due to timing or family tensions. That’s where this handy trick comes in. If all you have available to you is a non-kosher oven, you may be able to double wrap your food in foil and then bake it- ask your local Orthodox Rabbi for more information. 🙂

This rice recipe is really easy and the rice comes out really nice and fluffy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of a rice of your choice (I used brown rice)
  • Oil
  • Water
  • Salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350. Oil an aluminum pan and add rice and water according to the proportions listed on the rice package. Wrap the bottom of the aluminum pan with a layer of aluminum foil and wrap the top with two layers making sure to completely seal the pan. Put in the oven and bake for about an hour- mine was done in an hour and 10 minutes. If you want to check on the rice lift the pan and tilt it to feel if there is still water loose in the pan. If you do open the foil and the rice is not done yet, be careful to fully double wrap it before returning it to the oven. Once the rice is done open it and fluff it with a fork and enjoy!

Butternut Squash “Ricotta”

8e8afe46-33e3-403f-8aa5-2599bd5cfb06.jpg

I live in a suburb in Maryland where our grocery stores have lots of basic kosher products, but you have to get to a kosher grocery to get some of the ‘frills’ like ricotta. Being the foodie that I am, I decided to play around with tofu and feta and see what happened. Kosher feta is in most of our local groceries and Trader Joes even has a Cholov Yisroel feta from Israel! Then I thought… what if I add roasted butternut squash… Now this is a staple I use in lots of recipes including super decadent quesadillas, and homemade ravioli! Those recipes will be posted soon, but let’s start with one of my favorite bases…

Ingredients:

  • Butternut Squash- Harris Teeter sells one that is cut up and kosher certified!
  • 1 Container of Tofu
  • 7 oz Feta
  • Oil – I used canola
  • Salt

Directions:

Roast the butternut squash with some oil and a dash of salt at 400*F for 30 minutes- until soft. Let cool then transfer to a bowl. Drain both the feta and tofu then crumble over the roasted butternut squash. Use an immersion blender or mash with your hands until fully mixed.

Eat as is, or stay tuned for my foodie quesadilla recipe or homemade ravioli!