Thursday, January 31, 2013

Flu Fighter Cookies

For this month's What's Baking, the theme was Baking Healthy.  We could either take a recipe and make it lighter, or just use an already-light recipes.  I went for the second option, though to be quite honest, I don't know how "healthy" these are with a stick of butter....but it doesn't have a ton of sugar since you use molasses and it uses low-fat Greek yogurt for added creaminess.

Of course, as luck would have it, as I decided to make the "flu-fighter" cookies, I was struck down with a nasty cold.  I've been horribly congested and coughing for almost a week.  So my submission this month is a little delayed, but, oh well.  These cookies aren't necessarily going to cure your flu, but with all the antioxidents, it helps boost your immune system.  And with the awful flu going around across the country this year, I'm sure we all could use some extra help in keeping it at bay!

Flu-Fighter Cookies (slightly adapted from

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cups golden raisins, plus more for topping
3/4 cups dried cranberries, plus more for topping
3/4 cups chopped pecans

- Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a medium bowl.
 - Beat the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 minutes.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Add the molasses, yogurt, ginger and lemon zest and beat until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the flour mixture to make a sticky batter (do not overmix). Fold in the oats and the raisins, cranberries and walnuts
- Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of batter onto the prepared baking sheets. Top each with some of the additional dried fruit and chill for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Bake the cookies until dark golden but still soft, 10 to 12 minutes; cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sole with Thyme

My go-to white fish is usually flounder.  Whether it's making my poached flounder or just popping it in the oven with a little lemon juice and paprika.  But sometimes it's nice to change things up and try something new.  When we decided to have some friends over for dinner while their kitchen was under renovation, I flipped through The Silver Spoon and decided to try out this recipe for Sole with Thyme.

It's a very simple recipe and came out very tasty.  Though the one thing that I would change is that the recipe says "keep in a cool place until ready to serve".  We did, and ended up eating it at room temperature.  While it still tasted good, I think that it would have been a little better if it was warm.

Sole with Thyme (from The Silver Spoon)

4 sole, cleaned, trimmed, and skinned
1/2 - 2/3 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
juice of 1/2 lemon, strained
3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
white pepper

- Place the fish in a large pan, add water to cover and a pinch of salt, and bring just to a boil, then lower the heat and poach until tender.  Drain and place on a serving dish.  Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.
- Put the thyme leaves, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of pepper in a bowl and gradually stir in the olive oil.
- Spoon the thyme sauce over the dish and keep in a cool place until ready to serve (***I personally think it would be better served warm)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Potatoes in Bechamel Sauce

When I lived on my own and wanted to make potatoes as a side dish, I'd break out a box of Betty Crocker's either Scalloped Potatoes or Potatoes Au Gratin.  These boxes come with the powdered sauce and dried out potatoes (yum, right??).  As I've become a better cook, I've been trying to cut out processed foods, especially dehydrated veggies that come in boxes.  When I was having friends over and opted to make a fish dinner, I knew I wanted to make potatoes as a side, so I looked through The Silver Spoon cookbook and found this recipe for potatoes in bechamel sauce.

I've never made bechamel sauce, so I was intrigued by this.  I knew that I wanted to make these potatoes.  They were pretty easy to make, too.  I think that next time I want a side of potatoes and not just roasted ones, then I would make these (as long as I have plenty of cooking time).  And they came out pretty delicious, as well!

Bechamel Sauce (from The Silver Spoon)

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups milk 
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional ***I did use nutmeg)

- Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.  Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste.
- Using a wooden spoon, gradually stir in all the milk, making sure the sauce is smooth between each addition.
- Return the pan to the heat and cook over medium-high heat, stirring continuously until it starts to boil.  Season with salt, lower the heat, cover and summer gently over low heat, stirring occasionally, for at least 20 minutes.  The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and not run off.
- Remove the pan from the heat.  Taste, add more salt, if necessary, and season with pepper and/or nutmegBechamel sauce should not taste floury.
- If the sauce is too thick, ad a little more milk.  If too runny, boil for a little longer.

**For a richer sauce, replace half the milk with the same amount of heavy cream.  For a lighter sauce, add half milk and half water.

Potatoes in Bechamel Sauce (from The Silver Spoon)

2 1/4 lbs potatoes
2 tbsp butter, melted, plus extra for greasing 
scant 1/2 cup of light cream
1 quantity of Bechamel Sauce (recipe above)
2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

- Cook the whole, unpeeled potatoes in plenty of salted water for 45 min, then drain, peel, and slice.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease an ovenproof dish with butter, arrange the potato slices, slightly overlapping, in it, and season with salt and pepper.
- Stir the cream into the bechamel sauce and pour the mixture over the potatoes to cover.  Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and melted butter.
- Bake until golden brown and bubbling, then serve.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Brussels Sprouts with Almonds

I always joke that Jews and Italians are very similar - most things revolve around food and guilt.  This would explain why two of my best friends are both Italian.  When I received the  The Silver Spoon cookbook I was excited;  apparently it's a book that most Italians have in their collection.  I knew that I couldn't make a handful of the recipes in here (pork, shellfish, etc) and would have to amend some to fit kosher restrictions, but there were many recipes I could make as published.  When I had friends over for dinner I opted to make a meal entirely from this book.  The posts this week are the ones that I made for this meal.

I honestly don't understand why Brussels sprouts have a bad rap.  If I could eat them with every meal, I would.  The easiest (and delicious) way we make them are to just add a little salt, oil and roast until crispy.  But it's always nice to mix things up a little and try out new ways to enjoy your favorite veggies.  For the side dish I opted to try out this recipe for Brussels sprouts with almonds.  It came out very tasty and I would definitely consider making this again with a dairy or parve meal.

Brussels Sprouts with Almonds (from The Silver Spoon)

1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup blanched almonds
1 garlic clove
zest of 1 lemon, chopped
1 1/2 tsp unflavored bread crumbs
salt and pepper

- Cook the Brussels sprouts in salted, boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain thoroughly, place on a serving dish and keep warm.
- Heat half the butter in a skillet, add the almonds and the garlic, and stir-fry for a few minutes.  Add the lemon zest, season with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.  Remove and discard the garlic.
- Melt the remaining butter in a small pan and stir-fry the bread crumbs until golden, then stir into the almond mixture, spoon over Brussels sprouts, and serve.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Tyler Florence's Chicken Noodle Soup

When Sarah from A Taste of Home Cooking posted that this month's theme for the recipe swap was Celebrity Recipes, I was excited.  Though I think I was more excited to pass along my recipe for Rachael Ray's poached flounder than I was to receive my assignment.  I mean, why wouldn't I want someone else to try out one of our favorites?!

When I was sent my assignment of Tyler Florence's chicken noodle soup (submitted by Jaida of Sweet Beginnings) I was excited.  I love making chicken soup, but my go-to recipe is my grandma's which takes several hours to make.  This one takes less than an hour (including prep time) so I'm glad to add something to my repertoire for when I want soup but don't have all day to make it.  This will be perfect for if my husband or I come down with a cold or something and would like soup when we get home.

The soup was super easy to make.  I needed to cook the chicken to shred, so I put on a smaller pot to boil and then got chopping to prep the veggies that go into the soup.  Just before I put the veggies into the soup pot, I put the chicken breasts in to smaller pot and turned it down to simmer to poach the chicken.  By the time I had put the noodles into the dish, the chicken was ready to shred.

I am always buying chicken stock to use in recipes, but rarely use it as a base for soup, so I liked being able to season it up and have it as it was meant to be eaten.  I will definitely make this again!

***And check out Dawn's post about the poached fish!

Tyler Florence's Chicken Noodle Soup (adapted from this recipe by Sweet Beginnings)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced 
2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices 
2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices 
4 fresh thyme sprigs 
1 bay leaf 
2 quarts chicken stock (I used Imagine Kosher Free-Range Chicken Stock) 
8 ounces dried wide egg noodles 
2 cups shredded cooked chicken 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

- Place a soup pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. 
- Pour in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the noodles and simmer for 5 minutes until tender. 
- Fold in the chicken, and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through; season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Soy-Glazed Salmon

My husband and I aren't huge meat eaters.  We'll maybe have chicken once a week, but that's about it.  So to get our proteins we try to eat fish at least once a week as well.  Salmon is very healthy (filled with Omega-3, etc) and it tastes delicious, so we eat it often in our household.

I'm always looking for a new way to jazz up our salmon.  When I first picked up Food Network Magazine last July, the Weeknight Meal section jumped out at me.  Not only because they were simple, quick dinners, but also because it included this recipe for soy-glazed salmon.  Yum!  The dish also included a cucumber-avocado salad, which we made the first time (see the picture below), but weren't thrilled with, so when we've made the meal since we substitute other sides.  This time we made some rice pilaf w/almonds as well as roasted brussels sprouts.

It's an easy way to make a delicious meal.  Make sure you load on the soy glaze so you can really taste it after it cooks!

Soy-Glazed Salmon (slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine, July/August 2012)

1 tbsp honey
2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp cornstarch
4 6-oz salmon filets
1/2 tsp olive oil
Kosher salt

- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Rub the fish filets all over with the oil and season lightly with salt.  Place the fish in a baking dish and back for 5 min.
- Mix the honey, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small microwavable bowl.  Microwave until just simmering (30-40 seconds).  Be careful of it boiling over.
- Remove the salmon from the oven and brush with the honey-soy sauce mixture.
- Return the fish to the oven and continue baking until just cooked through (approx 7-9 minutes)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Greek Garlic Chicken

I make chicken just about every week or two, and I'm always looking for new/different recipes to use so we don't feel like we're eating the same thing over and over.  I found this recipe in Kosher by Design: Short on Time.  I love kalamata olives, so I knew I wanted to try this one out.

It was pretty simple to make (though the whole "short on time" part didn't really apply to this recipe.  The "5 min prep time" took about 25 min, and that's before it cooks for an hour, but that's ok since I made this on a Sunday so I didn't have as much of a time constraint.  I made a few adjustments - the first being that the recipe in the book calls for 2 whole chickens, so I made half a batch (and actually only used leg quarters cut into thigh & drumsticks due to not being able to get to the better store to pick up a full chicken).  I mean, unless I had a family of 4 and wanted leftovers, there's no reason to make two whole chickens!

The chicken came out delicious.  My husband inhaled it and I know there's going to be a fight over the leftovers (only 2 pieces left!).

Greek Garlic Chicken (slightly adapted from Kosher By Design: Short on Time)

1 chicken, cut into eighths
1 onion, cut into large chunks
1 lemon
6-8 sprigs fresh oregano
5 cloves garlic, halved
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
3/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup kalamata olives, whole for garnish

- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Place the chicken pieces in a single layer, skin-side-up in a 9x13 baking dish.
- Add the onion chunks.  Slice the lemon in half lengthwise.  Squeeze the lemon halves over the chicken.  Cut each lemon half into 4 pieces, add to the chicken.
- Set aside 2 sprigs of oregano and strip the leaves from the rest.  Scatter the leaves and stripped sprigs over the chicken.  They will add their perfume to the dish. 
- Add the garlic and season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with the oil and wine.  Toss the mixture together.  Sprinkle the chopped olives over the chicken.
- Bake, uncovered, for 45min - 1 hour, or until chicken is fully cooked and no longer pink, or a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 180 degrees.
- Transfer to a platter and garnish with whole olives and reserved oregano sprigs.

Friday, January 11, 2013


The last dessert that I made for our party last fall was a trifle.  A trifle is a wonderful, delicious thing.  Though they always remind me of the episode of Friends where Rachel makes one with meat and peas because pages of the cookbook stuck together (though, of course, Joey likes it "what's not to like?  Custard, good.  Jam, good.  Meat, goooood").

The problem with a trifle is that they're usually huuuuge and you end up with a ton left over.  I personally think you should only serve it if you have at least 6 people there.  Otherwise it sits in your fridge covered in the trifle dish, or you end up putting it in tupperware and then it never looks as appetizing as leftovers (if anyone has ideas on how to store leftover trifle, let me know!)

I based this recipe off one I got from my bridal shower gift cookbook.  I honestly have no idea who gave it to me, as not all recipes are signed.  I thought it was from one friend who had brought a trifle once to a dinner party I threw and she and this recipe-giver both jokingly referred to the trifle as "The Bomb".  So if any ladies who were at my shower happen to be reading this and know who submitted this recipe, let me know so I can give proper credit!!

The only snafu I ran into while making this is that the round  cake pan that I had (a spring-form pan) wasn't an exact match for the size of my trifle dish, so to make it fit, I cut a strip down the middle of the cake and removed it.  That way, when I made the cake smaller, it was able to squish together just enough to fit perfectly in the dish.  Also, I made a full round cake then cut it in half length-wise so I had two smaller cakes to layer into the trifle.

I do have a confession to make - I used some mixes to make this.  I used a cake mix and pudding mixes.  It can be considered cheating, but when I was making so much from scratch, this was the simplest way to do this.  Next time I will make the cakes and puddings from scratch as well!  I did make the whipped cream myself, though.  I used very little sugar with my heavy cream, since the rest of it was so sweet I thought putting too much in would be a little too sweet.

Trifle (adapted from a recipe given to me, original source unknown)

1 box chocolate cake mix (or make your own!)
chocolate pudding mix
1 box Heath Bar bits
whipped cream

- Bake the cake either in two shallow cake pans or one higher one.  Let cool completely.
Make the pudding.  Let cool completely.
- If you have one large cake, cut in half lengthwise so you have 2 equal sized round cakes.
- Put one cake on the bottom of the trifle dish.
- cover with 1/2 of the pudding.
- cover with 1/2 of the whipped cream.
- sprinkle with Heath bar bits.
- Repeated again - cake, pudding, whipped cream, Heath bar bits

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup

I feel like a broken record when I say this, but I thought I didn't like butternut squash.  That is, until I actually tried it.  Last year I was at a friend's baby shower and they were serving butternut squash soup as part of the buffet, so I decided to try it out.  Boy was I surprised when I actually liked it!  When my husband and I were coming up with a menu for our party this fall, I knew I wanted to serve some sort of soup, so I did a search and came across this recipe.

I've made this soup twice now.  The first time I bought a full butternut squash which I peeled and seeded myself.  I did a bit of searching to find out how to do this and came across this video on YouTube.  The video is about a minute long, so it must be easy to do this yourself, right?  Yeah, not so much.  The cutting and seeding part isn't so awful (though you have to be careful when cutting since you don't have flat surfaces to let it sit securely on), but it's the peeling that was difficult.  The video makes it seem like you can just use a regular vegetable peeler.  But the skin was too thick to do this, and the squash wasn't a good shape to peel, so I ended up doing it all with a paring knife.  It took a very long time, so the next time I made this, I bought the pre-cut squash that my supermarket sells.

The other thing that I realized after the second time I made this that another thing I can change is that I can just use my immersion blender to puree this in the pot instead of having to take the squash out of the pot with a slotted spoon and use a blender, then put it back in the pot to finish off.

This really makes for a wonderful fall/winter dish.  I plan on making this again before winter is over.

Butternut Squash Soup (slightly adapted from this recipe posted on

2-3 lbs of butternut squash (approx 1 large), peeled and seeded
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cups of Imagine No-Chicken Broth (vegetable stock can be substituted, or regular chicken stock if you do not keep a kosher home)
salt, pepper, and ground nutmeg to taste

- Cut squash into 1 inch chunks. 
- In a large pot, melt butter.  Add the onion and cook until translucent (about 8 min).
- Add squash and stock.  Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender (about 15-20 min).
- Using an immersion blender, puree the squash and onion.  If you do not have an immersion blender, remove squash and onion chunks with a slotted spoon and place in a blender to puree.  Return the blended squash and onion to the pot.
- Stir and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Zucchini Bread

I think I've mentioned on here that I love the show Top Chef.  When I heard that Gail Simmons had written the book Talking with My Mouth Full, I knew I wanted to read it.  The book was so interesting that I ended up finishing it within a few days.  The best part of the book?  The recipes she shares at the end!

Due to my newfound love of zucchini, I was immediately drawn to the recipe that Gail shares of her mother's zucchini bread.  The recipe makes 2 loaves, but I opted to make one big loaf and then two mini loaves.  My husband and I ate the larger loaf over the week after I made it, then I brought one mini loaf to my office where it was devoured (ok, not going to lie, I ate some of this one in addition to the one at home, this was so good!!) and then we froze the final loaf.  To freeze it, I wrapped it in clingwrap and then in foil.  When we wanted to serve the frozen loaf, I took it out of the freezer earlier that day, removed the foil and let it thaw out in the clingwrap.  A few hours later it was just as moist and delicious as it was when I first made it!

Zucchini Bread (recipe from the Gail Simmons book Talking With My Mouth Full)

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini, drained
1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
1 cup raisins

- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Brush two standard loaf pans with softened butter
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.  Set aside.
- In another large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a fork until frothy.  Add the sugar, oil and vanilla extract, stirring well to combine.  Stir in the zucchini, then add the flour mixture, walnuts and rasins.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold ingredients until just combined.  Do not overmix.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared loaf pans.  Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 45 min).
- Let the bread cool in the pans on a wire rack.  When they are cool enough to handle, run a knife around the edges of the pans, invert and release the loaves.