Meatless Monday -Breakfast Tacos

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I was tired of toast for breakfast, so decided to ratchet it up a notch with breakfast tacos.  I love Mexican food so this was a no brainer, and even though these tacos are vegetarian, they even satisfied my husband who went back for thirds. Warm corn tortillas loaded with Mexican Chipotle ‘vegan sausage’, scrambled eggs (or tofu), jalapenos, black olives, tomatoes and shredded cheese were a great way to start the day. I’m pretty sure you will like them too. We had them for Sunday morning breakfast but I would eat them for dinner too…

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Those that follow me know that I’m not a fan of fake foods, i.e. fake ‘meat’.  I usually prefer to make my own substitutions, or just not eat it at all, so I have pretty much stayed away from store bought ‘meat’.  Luckily for me (and vegetarians everywhere), our choices are getting better all the time and I decided to give the Field Roast Grain Meat ‘sausages’ a try. I chose the Mexican Chipotle because I thought the flavors would be great in a taco. Well, I loved it.  My husband loved it. I will definitely be trying the other flavors too.

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For those like me that don’t know, grain meat is a combination of grains and vegetables that are ground up like a traditional sausage.  The links are encased in plastic, which must be removed before cooking, in contrast to natural casings which are made from animal intestines. Sausage is sometimes enclosed in artificial casings made of cellulose, collagen or synthetic materials, so know what you are buying.

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I have 12 chickens, most of whom have been rescued from  factory farms so I am lucky enough to have plentiful and beautiful eggs from happy hens who have been given a second chance at life.  If you don’t have access to eggs from your own backyard or a farmers market, look for Pasture Raised eggs in your supermarket.  All the other labels like Cage Free and Organic are misleading.  I have written about this before so won’t repeat myself.  For those that haven’t read my egg rant or are still confused about egg labeling, click  HERE for more info on how to decipher egg labels. They are designed to keep people from making informed decisions. (i.e. organic may not mean what you think it does).  The bottom line is DON’T BUY CHEAP EGGS. My chickens, ambassadors for factory farmed animals, have their own Facebook page,  Mrs Vs Rescue Chickens .Check them out. They love new followers.

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*If you are vegan or don’t eat eggs, tofu makes a good scramble.  You can buy boxed tofu scramble or you can make your own using extra firm tofu.  Click HERE for a Basic Tofu Scramble Recipe.

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BREAKFAST BURRITOS

  • 2 Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausages (vegan)
  • 1/2 block firm tofu or 3 pasture raised eggs*
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1 tsp vegan butter or butter
  • 6 corn tortillas

Suggested Toppings:

  • 1 small tomato, chopped (or several cherry tomatoes cut in quarters)
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • Sliced black olives
  • Sliced or chopped jalapeno peppers
  • Shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack Cheese (vegan options available)
  • Sriracha or other hot pepper sauce

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  • Remove the plastic casing from the sausages and break into pieces with a spatula or fingers (it’s a bit messy).  Saute in olive oil on medium for about 5 minutes.  Reduce to low. (The sausage can get too crispy if overcooked)

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  • While sausage is cooking, prepare your toppings. You don’t need very many.

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  • If using tofu, follow suggested recipe* or your own.  If using eggs, add 1 teaspoon cold water and scramble in butter until done and remove from heat.

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  • Heat tortillas. My favorite way is to wrap in papertowels and microwave about 30 seconds.  Keep warm in foil or a cloth, or a tortilla warmer if you have one.

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  • Fill tortillas with a spoonful of sausage and egg

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  • Add the toppings of your choice.  Top with hot sauce, if desired.  Goes well with fruit.

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Breakfast Tacos

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 2 Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausages (vegan)
  • 1/2 block tofu or 3 pasture raised eggs*
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1 tsp vegan butter or butter
  • 6 corn tortillas

Suggested Toppings:

  • 1 small tomato, chopped (or several cherry tomatoes cut in quarters)
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • Sliced black olives
  • Sliced or chopped jalapeno peppers
  • Shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack Cheese (vegan options available)
  • Sriracha or other hot pepper sauce
  1. Remove the plastic casing from the sausages and break into pieces with a knife or fingers (it’s a bit messy).  Saute in olive oil on medium for about 5 minutes.  Reduce to low. (The sausage can get hard if overcooked)
  2. While sausage is cooking,
  3. If using tofu, follow suggested recipe* or your own.  If using eggs, add 1 teaspoon cold water and scramble in butter until done and remove from heat.
  4. Heat tortillas. My favorite way is to wrap in papertowels and microwave about 30 seconds.  Keep warm in foil or a cloth.
  5. Fill tortillas with a spoonful of sausage and egg and the toppings of your choice.  Top with hot sauce, if desired.  Goes well with fruit.

Meatless Monday – Leek & Kale Frittata with Pomegranate Fruit Salad

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Breakfast for dinner?  Or how about surprising your holiday houseguests with a homey and delicious morning treat.  Frittata is an easy one pan meal that can be served piping hot from the oven but is just as delicious at room temperature.  This could be the perfect solution for holiday mornings when some people are up at the crack of dawn and others make their way into the kitchen closer to noon.  This frittata is loaded with good veggies; power greens, (kale, chard and spinach) leeks, criminy mushrooms and red bell pepper and made creamy and delicious with pasture raised eggs, cheddar and jack cheese. I topped it off with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and herbs to enhance it’s savory, yummy goodness.

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Toss together some berries, melon (whatever fruit you have on hand).  It really doesn’t matter because once you top the fruit with pomegranate seeds, the fruit salad is transformed into something beautiful.  There is just something about these glittery, jewel toned beauties that makes everything special, even a fruit salad.  Pomegranate seeds are a powerhouse of vitamin C so I try to put them on pretty much everythin this time of year when colds and flu are lurking behind every corner.

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This is a short blog post because ‘Tis the Season and I have to join the long line at the post office to get my Christmas cards in the mail.  I am fairly ready for Christmas though, after managing 8 fun candlelit nights of Hanukkah.  Stockings are hung and bursting with treasures.  Now that my sons are grown, Santa I no longer creep down in the middle of the night but just fill as I go.  It’s much easier this way, and I think more festive too.  So I am off to battle the crowds…  May your time spent with your families this holiday season be filled with Peace and Love.

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LEEK AND KALE FRITTATA AND POMEGRANATE FRUIT SALAD

2 Tbsn butter or coconut oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 leek, cleaned and chopped
6-8 criminy mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
1 cup shredded cheddar and jack cheeses
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
8 pasture raised eggs
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried oregano (or 1/2 tsp fresh)
salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat the oven to 375
  • Saute onion and leeks in butter until soft in a cast iron pan (or other stovetop to oven pan).
  • Add greens, mushrooms and red bell pepper and cook several minutes until the water has mostly evaporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
  • Stir in cheeses and make sure everything is well proportioned in the pan
  • Beat the eggs and pour over the top of the cheese, veggie mixture.
  • Sprinkle the top with red pepper flakes, more pepper and herbs.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the center is firm.
  • Serve frittata hot, warm or at room temperature.

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POMEGRANATE FRUIT SALAD

1 cup melon, diced
2 cups mixed berries
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

  • While frittata is cooking, combine melon and berries in a serving bowl.
  • Top with pomegranate seeds
  • If desired you can serve with a Honey Lime Dipping Sauce.  Just stir together 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1/4 cup honey and 1/4 cup lime juice.

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Leek and Kale Frittata with Pomegranate Fruit Salad

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 Tbsn butter or coconut oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 leek, cleaned and chopped
6-8 criminy mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
1 cup shredded cheddar and jack cheeses
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
8 pasture raised eggs
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried oregano (or 1/2 tsp fresh)
salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat the oven to 375
  • Saute onion and leeks in butter until soft in a cast iron pan (or other stovetop to oven pan).
  • Add greens, mushrooms and red bell pepper and cook several minutes until the water has mostly evaporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
  • Stir in cheeses and make sure everything is well proportioned in the pan
  • Beat the eggs and pour over the top of the cheese, veggie mixture.
  • Sprinkle the top with red pepper flakes, more pepper and herbs.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the center is firm.
  • Serve frittata hot, warm or at room temperature.

POMEGRANATE FRUIT SALAD

1 cup melon, diced
2 cups mixed berries
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

  • While the frittata is cooking, combine melon and berries in a serving bowl.
  • Top with pomegranate seeds
  • If desired you can serve with a Honey Lime Dipping Sauce.  Just stir together 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1/4 cup honey and 1/4 cup lime juice.

Wheatless Wednesday – Baked Eggs in Kale Cups

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Move over eggs and toast, Baked Eggs in Kale Cups is more delicious, nutritious and way cuter!  With easy preparation and few ingredients, breakfast is on the table in 30 minutes or less. This is the perfect weekend treat! The kale is crispy on the sides but creamy and garlicky on the bottom, while the egg is perfectly set with hints of parmesan, red pepper flakes and fresh basil. Delish and easy!  Just pop them in the oven and enjoy a cup of coffee and the newspaper while they bake.  (It will only look like you worked so hard…)  These pretty baked eggs are a good source of protein to start your day and the KALE  adds vitamin B6, dietary fiber, calcium, potassium, vitamin E, vitamin B2, iron, magnesium, vitamin B1, omega-3 fatty acids phosphorus, more protein, folate, and niacin. Whew!  That is why kale is king…. These little beauties are also elegant enough to serve at a brunch or even as a quick and easy dinner. Serve with fresh fruit or a tossed green salad. For a hearty appetite, add roasted or baked potatoes or sweet potatoes.

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I spotted this recipe in the November, 2015 edition of Vegetarian Times and decided to make it for Sunday brunch using  eggs from the backyard chickens next door and fresh kale from my garden.  I have a great arrangement with my neighbor, Sandy.  I give her all of my cooking and vegetable garden scraps and she gives me beautiful organic eggs from happy chickens.  Look at the gorgeous orange of the yolks.  Darker yellow/orange yolks usually means the hen had a varied diet and the resulting egg is richer in Vitamins and micronutrients like vitamins A and E plus omega-3. as compared to the anemic pale yellow, less nutritious standard supermarket egg.  Did you know that egg yolks are one of the foods that naturally contain Vitamin D?  Another egg fact you may not know is that the color of the shell doesn’t indicate how nutritious it is, just the kind of chicken that the egg came from. My Mom raised a variety of chickens who laid eggs that ranged in color from off white to green, blue and brown – all equally nutritious because they were raised the same, happy and on the earth.

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However, if you aren’t lucky enough to have chickens like my brother, Tom, and his wife, Kelle, or have  a neighbor with chickens, try to buy eggs that are labelled “Pasture Raised”.  Other egg labels are often meaningless and lies misleading as producers try to capitalize on people’s desire to make more humane and nutritious choices.  Just because something is labelled ‘Organic’ or ‘Free Range’ doesn’t mean the chickens were given nutritious food or had a chance to go outside and peck at the ground.  There is little to no oversight so producers just decide for themselves what those terms mean. Outside might mean a tiny concrete enclosure that the chickens may not even know is there or have real access. For a breakdown on what egg labels are supposed to mean and what they really mean, click HERE to read an article by NPR.  And, FYI, chickens are NOT vegetarians…

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TIPS:  I used lacinato kale because that is what I had ready in my garden, but you can use any kind of kale you like.  Curly kale would make extra pretty ‘cups’ in this dish.  When forming the nests/cups, use more kale than you think and make sure the muffin tin is completely covered to prevent leakage and that the fronds stick up out of the muffin tin, as the kale shrinks quite a bit during baking.

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BAKED EGGS IN KALE CUPS

      2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
      1 12-oz. bunch kale, stems removed
      2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
      1-2 cloves garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
      6 large eggs
      1 Tbsn fresh basil, chopped (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat extra-large six-cup muffin pan with 1 Tbs. oil or cooking spray.

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  • Place kale leaves in large bowl, add remaining 1 Tbs. oil, cheese, and garlic. Massage kale until tender and glistening.

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  • Line prepared muffin cups with large kale leaves, covering whole muffin cup, and leaving some of leaf edges sticking up (smaller leaves can be layered in cup).

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  • Crack 1 egg into each kale nest, and season with salt and pepper, more red pepper flakes and a sprinkle of parmesan, if desired.

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  • Bake 17 to 25 minutes, or until egg yolk is set.

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  • Cool 5 minutes before removing kale nests from muffin cups.

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  • Using a large spoon or a knife edge, carefully release the sides from the cupcake tin and place on a platter to serve. Sprinkle with fresh basil, if desired.

Baked EggS in Kale Cups

  • Servings: 3-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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        2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
        1 12-oz. bunch curly kale, stems removed
        2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
        1-2 cloves garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
        6 large eggs
        1 Tbsn fresh basil, chopped (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat extra-large six-cup muffin pan with 1 Tbs. oil or cooking spray.
  • Place kale leaves in large bowl, add remaining 1 Tbs. oil, cheese, and garlic. Massage kale until tender and glistening.
  • Line prepared muffin cups with large kale leaves, covering whole muffin cup, and leaving some of leaf edges sticking up (smaller leaves can be layered in cup).
  • Crack 1 egg into each kale nest, and season with salt and pepper, more red pepper flakes and a sprinkle of parmesan, if desired.
  • Bake 17 to 25 minutes, or until egg yolk is set.
  • Cool 5 minutes before removing kale nests from muffin cups.
  • Using a large spoon or a knife edge, carefully release the sides from the cupcake tin and place on a platter to serve. Sprinkle with fresh basil, if desired

Rustic Berry Tart

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Dessert or Breakfast?  You decide.  This beautiful tart is my new favorite throw-together fruit dish, made with fresh summer berries, lemon zest and just a bit of sugar, folded into a whole grain crust made with white whole wheat flour.  For a tart it’s pretty healthy, so I have actually made it for breakfast when I’ve had guests.  Either way, it’s a crowd pleaser and you won’t have any leftovers!

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I have made this tart three times now.  Twice with store bought crusts and once using the following recipe for white whole wheat crust.  The store bought crusts were perfectly fine and made it super quick – five minutes to prepare and right into the oven.  However, I really preferred the homemade crust, which was slightly thicker and had more of a rustic feel.  It also contained the juices better.  The crust was surprisingly easy to make but requires chilling time, which must be taken into account. I have also used coarse sanding sugar, which adds a ‘professional’ look to the tart and a nice, crunchy sweetness to the crust, but regular granulated sugar works fine too if that’s what you have.

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So what is up with white whole wheat flour?  I love to use whole grain flour whenever possible for cooking but sometimes taste or texture is compromised because whole grains are often heavier and have a stronger taste. I have recently started using an unbleached white whole wheat flour from King Arthur.  The flour is milled from 100% organic hard white spring wheat, a lighter-colored and more mild tasting grain than traditional red wheat, which means that baked goods taste better but still have all of the nutrition and fiber of whole grains.

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TIPS:  This recipe can be personalized to your liking with almost any fruit.  Just use four cups of fruit:  whole small berries or thinly sliced peaches, apricots, pears, plums, apples or strawberries.  Or combine two fruits for an interesting combo.  Some fruits are sweeter than others, so adjust the sugar as necessary, and otherwise follow the recipe below.

You can easily make 4 individual mini tarts from this recipe instead of one large one.  When you’re finished mixing the dough, divide it into four equal pieces before pressing them into disks and wrapping them in plastic; refrigerate. Roll the dough into rounds about 7 inches in diameter and portion the fruit evenly among the rounds. Pleat the dough around the fruit to make a 1-inch rim. Bake as directed.

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Recipe Adapted From Fine Cooking/Summertime Eats 2015, Rustic Fruit Tart

RUSTIC BERRY TART

2 cups fresh raspberries
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh blackberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp lemon zest, finely grated
1 Tbsn flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsn coarse sanding sugar, or granulated sugar

CRUST (Or your favorite pre-made crust)

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or all purpose flour)
2 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 1/2 oz cold unsalted butter (11 Tbsn), cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large egg yolk
3 Tbsn whole milk

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  • If using your own homemade dough, prepare that first.  Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a stand mixer or food processor.  Add butter and pulse on low until the mixture looks sandy and no large pieces of butter remain. The flour should hold together when you pinch it with your fingers.
  • In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk and milk.  With the mixer on low, add them to the flour mixture and pulse until the dough just comes together, about 15 seconds.  The dough will be somewhat crumbly and dry.
  • Dump dough onto a clean counter and work it with the heel of your hand until the dough comes together.  Press it into a flat disc, wrap it with plastic and let it rest in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes before rolling it out.
  • Preheat oven to 350.  Remove dough from refrigerator and let it sit 10 to 15 minutes, or until it’s pliable enough to work with.  Roll it out on a floured surface into a 13 to 14 inch round.  Don’t worry about ragged edges.  They only make the tart look more rustic.

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  • Transfer the dough circle to a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment.

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  • In a large bow, toss the raspberries, blueberries and blackberries with the sugar.  Taste and add up to 2 Tbsn more or sugar, if needed.  Add lemon zest, flour and salt and gently combine.

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  • Heap the fruit mixture into the center of the dough circle, leaving a 2 inch border.
  • Fold the edges of the dough over the fruit, overlapping and pleating as you go.

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  • Brush the dough, with beaten egg (even under the folds) and sprinkle with sugar.

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  • Bake until the dough is golden brown, 40 to 55 minutes.  Let cool.

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  • Transfer to a serving platter and serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Rustic Berry Tart

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 cups fresh raspberries
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh blackberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp lemon zest, finely grated
1 Tbsn flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsn coarse sanding sugar, or granulated sugar

CRUST (Or your favorite pre-made crust)

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or all purpose flour)
2 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 1/2 oz cold unsalted butter (11 Tbsn), cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large egg yolk
3 Tbsn whole milk

  • If using your own homemade dough, prepare that first.  Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a stand mixer or food processor.  Add butter and pulse on low until the mixture looks sandy and no large pieces of butter remain. The flour should hold together when you pinch it with your fingers.
  • In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk and milk.  With the mixer on low, add them to the flour mixture and pulse until the dough just comes together, about 15 seconds.  The dough will be somewhat crumbly and dry.
  • Dump dough onto a clean counter and work it with the heel of your hand until the dough comes together.  Press it into a flat disc, wrap it with plastic and let it rest in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes before rolling it out.
  • Preheat oven to 350.  Remove dough from refrigerator and let it sit 10 to 15 minutes, or until it’s pliable enough to work with.  Roll it out on a floured surface into a 13 to 14 inch round.  Don’t worry about ragged edges.  They only make the tart look more rustic.
  • Transfer the dough circle to a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment.
  • In a large bow, toss the raspberries, blueberries and blackberries with the sugar.  Taste and add up to 2 Tbsn more or sugar, if needed.  Add lemon zest, flour and salt and gently combine.
  • Heap the fruit mixture into the center of the dough circle, leaving a 2 inch border.
  • Fold the edges of the dough over the fruit, overlapping and pleating as you go.
  • Brush the dough, with beaten egg (even under the folds) and sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake until the dough is golden brown, 40 to 55 minutes.  Let cool.
  • Transfer to a serving platter and serve warm or at room temperature.

10 Mother’s Day Recipe Ideas

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For those of you who are still looking for Mother’s Day inspiration, I have compiled 10 vegetarian and vegan ideas to help you pamper your Mom on her special day.  Just click on the links below for recipes and directions or Pin them for later (See below).

Happy Mother’s Day!-Joyce

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Heart Shaped Eggs  Start your Mom’s day with these adorable and easy heart eggs with toast, strawberries and a big mug of coffee. LOVE.

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Summer Vegetable Tart Slices of eggplant, zucchini and tomato alternating with fresh mozzerella baked into a flowery tart.  This is a personal favorite and although it’s not quite summer yet, these vegetables are readily available now or you can substitute what you have on hand.

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Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart  Serve this easy and fast tart with a salad and a glass of wine.  Done!  Top it with cherry tomatoes which will blister and wilt for a colorful presentation.

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Endive Salad Bites  (with crumbled goat cheese, avocado, citrus and red grapes) Serve 2 or 3 as a wonderful salad course or platter them as lovely appetizers.

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Israeli Couscous with Asparagus, Baby Spinach and Morel Mushrooms  Israeli or Pearl Couscous combined with spring vegetables makes an elegant and delicious vegan dish.

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Fava and Spring Pea Risotto with Greens  Risotto with young fava beans and peas is the essence of springtime.  It’s also special in that fava beans are only around for a short time so get them while you can. (vegan)

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Roasted Beet Salad with Ripe Peaches and Goat Cheese This is a colorful and satisfying salad topped with a yummy balsamic vinaigrette, fresh mint and basil.  Apricots are in season and would make a good substitute if you can’t find good peaches.

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Black Bean Quinoa Salad  I love this colorful quinoa salad with mango, red pepper, purple onion and black beans with a tasty cumin orange vinaigrette.  Delicious, happy and vegan!

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Meatless Monday – Crostini with Fava Beans and Lemon Ricotta  I love tender young fava beans and piled on top of toasted ciabatta and creamy ricotta with lemon and parmesan = Yum! Pair with  soup or a salad for an elegant meal.

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Potato Crusted Spinach Herb Torta Beautiful flowery crust made with potato slices (which taste like french fries) and gluten free. What’s not to love…

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Wheatless Wednesday – Potato Crusted Spinach Herb Torta

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Elegant and delicious, perfect for Mother’s Day, this beautiful torta is made with creamy ricotta, feta, spinach and fresh herbs in a pretty crust that looks like a flowery pie crust but tastes like french fries. Not kidding!   I warned that this week was all about Mother’s Day!  Not that this dish can only be made for a special occasion, it’s just that I think all mothers deserve something beautiful and pretty on their special day.  Moms are certainly worth a little extra effort to thank them for all their years of servitude wonderful mothering, which we all know is a 24/7 #lifelong #novacation job.

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I adapted this lovely recipe from Grown To Cook but it is originally from Deborah Madison: Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Revised,.so thumbs up to both of them.  The ingredients are simple, typical breakfast ingredients you would use to make an omlette and hash browns.  With a bit of effort, you can turn them into a showpiece, great for a brunch or garden party.  It’s not hard to make but cooking the potatoes first takes a bit of time since they won’t all fit in the pan at the same time.  Otherwise it’s pretty easy to assemble. Potatoes are the ultimate gluten free crust substitute.  Nutritionally speaking, potatoes win hands down over traditional crusts made with white flour and lard/butter.  Potatoes are complex carbohydrates and a great source of vitamin C, potassium (one potato has more than a banana), vitamin B6 and a host of trace minerals and have NO fat, sodium or cholesterol (except for what you add).  Use a good olive or avocado oil and even fried, they are still healthy.

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Spoiler Alert!  Stay tuned.  On Friday I will be posting a compilation of 10 ideas to make for your Mother’s Day brunch, lunch or dinner.

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TIPS:  I used my fancy new mandolin to slice the potatoes and loved the perfection of each thin slice.  I gave away my ‘professional’ mandolin, the one that real chefs use with lots of parts and adjustments, after my friend sliced off the end of her finger.  I just didn’t trust it any more.  This one, however, I would feel comfortable letting inexperienced or young cooks use (with supervision, of course).  I also used a springform pan which makes the torta removal very easy, as you just release the spring and the sides magically come off. Springform pans come in many sizes.  This recipe is for a 9 1/2 inch round springform pan which is on the smaller side.  If you have a larger pan, you may want to double the filling recipe or make 1 1/2 times the amount listed or your filling will be quite thin.  For the size of my pan (10 1/2), I should have made 1 1/2 times the filling.  Next time…

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POTATO CRUSTED SPINACH HERB TORTA

3 large russet potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups spinach leaves, stems removed
2 eggs
1 cup ricotta
1 1/2 cups chopped spring herbs: parsley, chives, dill
2/3 cup feta, crumbled
grated zest of 1 lemon
salt, pepper

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  • Peel the potatoes. Slice two of them crosswise into rounds about 3-4 mm (1/8 inch) thick using a mandoline or sharp knife. Cover with a damp papertowel to keep them from turning brown. Slice the third potato lengthwise, also 3-4 mm thick.

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  • Brush some olive oil in a wide skillet and set over high heat. When it’s hot, reduce the heat to medium and place a layer of potato slices in the skillet. Fry on both sides until golden and tender when pierced with a knife. Remove to a paper towel and repeat with the rest of the potato slices.  Sprinkle the long potato slices generously with salt while still warm.

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  • Add the spinach to the same pan with the water clinging to its leaves (or add a little water if dry). Cook until wilted and tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a sieve and press out any excess water.

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  • In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and ricotta. Add herbs, feta and lemon zest.

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  • Chop the spinach and add it to the mixture. The finer you chop it, the easier it blends.  Season with salt and pepper.

 

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  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 24 cm (9 ½ inch) spring form pan. Arrange the long slices (salted side out) overlapping each other, around the sides, pressing to keep them in place.   Line the bottom of the pan with the round potato slices, overlapping where necessary to cover the bottom completely.

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  • Pour in the ricotta mixture and spread it evenly in the pan.  If your sides have fallen in, try using a bit of ricotta mixture to ‘glue’ them together.

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  • Bake until firm and golden in places, 30-40 minutes. Check the first 10 minutes to make sure the sides are still in place.

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  • Let cool slightly.  Gently ease a knife between he edge of the pan and the potatoes. Release the spring and carefully remove the sides of the pan.  If it seems floppy, let it sit a bit longer before removing the springform.

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  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

Potato Crusted Spinach and Herb Torta

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

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3 large russet potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups spinach leaves, stems removed
2 eggs
1 cup ricotta
1 1/2 cups chopped spring herbs: parsley, chives, dill
2/3 cup feta, crumbled
grated zest of 1 lemon
salt, pepper

  • Peel the potatoes. Slice two of them crosswise into rounds about 3-4 mm (1/8 inch) thick using a mandoline or sharp knife. Cover with a damp papertowel to keep them from turning brown.
  • Slice the third potato lengthwise, also 3-4 mm thick.
  • Brush some olive oil in a wide skillet and set over high heat. When it’s hot, reduce the heat to medium and place a layer of potato slices in the skillet. Fry on both sides until golden and tender when pierced with a knife.
  • Remove to a paper towel and repeat with the rest of the potato slices.  Sprinkle potatoes with salt while still warm.
  • Add the spinach to the same pan with the water clinging to its leaves (or add a little water if dry). Cook until wilted and tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a sieve and press out any excess water.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and ricotta. Add herbs, feta and lemon zest.
  • Chop the spinach and add it to the mixture. The finer you chop it, the easier it blends. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 24 cm (9 ½ inch) spring form pan. Arrange the long slices (salted side out) overlapping each other, around the sides, pressing to keep them in place.   Line the bottom of the pan with the round potato slices, overlapping where necessary to cover the bottom completely.
  • Pour in the ricotta mixture and spread it evenly in the pan.  If your sides have fallen in, try using a bit of ricotta mixture to ‘glue’ them together.
  • Bake until firm and golden in places, 30-40 minutes. Check the first 10 minutes to make sure the sides are still in place.
  • Let cool slightly.  Gently ease a knife between he edge of the pan and the potatoes. Release the spring and carefully remove the sides of the pan.  If it seems floppy, let it sit a bit longer before removing the springform.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

Meatless Monday – Crostini with Fava Beans and Lemon Ricotta

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Working with fresh fava beans is a labor of love, so this makes a perfect dish for someone you love, like your Mother! What a wonderful Mother’s Day breakfast, brunch  or appetizer for that special lady in your life! I love this combination of  crusty toasted ciabatta topped with a creamy ricotta flavored with lemon and parmesan and then piled high with fresh fava beans, spring onions, lemon zest, basil and mint.  Mmmm….It’s pretty too, especially adorned with a sprig of purple basil from my garden!

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Fava beans must be removed from their large outer pod and then skinned, a two step process which is time consuming but well worth it, for the resulting beans are tender and delicious – and only available for a few weeks every year.  If you don’t want to spend the time or you can’t find fava beans, you can substitute fresh or frozen edamame, lima beans or peas.

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Fava Beans are not only delicious, they are nutrient dense, which means they provide a lot of nutrients for a relatively small number of calories. Fava beans, also called broad beans, are very high in protein and dietary fiber and loaded with beneficial antioxidants, vitamins, important phytonutrients and minerals, including iron which is harder to come by for those on a vegetarian diet.

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TIPS:  In figuring out how many Fava beans to buy, keep in mind that one cup of fava beans turns into about a half cup once they are shelled.  A large bunch of pods (1 pound) will yield only about a cup of shelled beans depending on size.  The smaller beans are sweeter and more tender than the larger ones and cooking times vary but only by a minute or two.

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CROSTINI WITH FAVA BEANS, SPRING ONIONS AND LEMON RICOTTA

1 large bunch(1 lb) fava beans(or 1 cup shelled edamame, peas or lima beans)
1 spring onion or 2 scallions (white part only)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
6-8 slices ciabatta or sourdough bread (or about a dozen baguette slices)

Ricotta Mixture:
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
2 Tbsn lemon juice (reserve lemon zest)
1/2 teaspoon salt

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  • Remove fava beans from their outer pod by cutting or bending the tip and ‘unzipping’ them by pulling the side string off.

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  • The shells also need to be removed.  Either slice and peel them off and then boil the beans for 1-2 minutes (depending on their size) or  boil in their shells for 3-4 minutes and then remove the shells by cutting or squeezing them out.  Either way, it’s a two step process. Very young fava beans may not need to be shelled and can be eaten raw or par boiled for 30 seconds.

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  • Run cold water over cooked beans to stop the cooking process and set aside.

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  • Combine all Ricotta ingredients and set aside to let the flavors develop.

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  • Thinly slice the spring onion and slice mint and basil into ribbons (also known as chifonnade)

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  • Combine fava beans, onion, mint, basil, lemon zest and olive oil in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

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  • Broil bread slices in a single layer for several minutes on each side until golden brown.

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  • Top each slice of bread with ricotta mixture and then top with a spoonful of fava beans.

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  • Serve whole or cut in half at room temperature (and kiss your Mom).

Crostini with Fava Beans & Lemon Ricotta

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 large bunch fava beans(or 1 cup shelled edamame, peas or lima beans)
1 spring onion or 2 scallions (white part only)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
6-8 slices ciabatta or sourdough bread (or about a dozen baguette slices)

Ricotta Mixture:
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
2 Tbsn lemon juice (reserve lemon zest)
1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Remove fava beans from their outer pod by cutting or bending the tip and ‘unzipping’ them by pulling the side string off.  The shells also need to be removed.  Either slice and peel them off and then boil the beans for 1-2 minutes (depending on their size) or  boil fin their shells for 3-4 minutes and then remove their shells by cutting or squeezing them out.  Either way, it’s a two step process. Run cold water over cooked beans to stop the cooking process and set aside.
  • Combine all Ricotta ingredients and set aside to let the flavors develop.
  • Thinly slice the spring onion and slice mint and basil into ribbons (also known as chifonnade)
  • Combine fava beans, onion, mint, basil, lemon zest and olive oil in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Broil bread slices in a single layer for several minutes on each side until golden brown.
  • Top each slice of bread with ricotta mixture and then top with a spoonful of fava beans.
  • Serve at room temperature (and kiss your Mom).

Meatless Monday – Eggs Baked in Avocado Cups

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Ever feel like you’re running a Bed & Breakfast?  That was me this past weekend, which was a whirlwind of my adult kids and various friends visiting from Maine.  It was so much fun but that many people around means that the kitchen is always hoppin’.  Saturday night I came home to  this gorgeous bowl of eggs sitting by my front door. I have an arrangement with my next door neighbor, Sandy.  I give her all of my kitchen scraps for her chickens who magically turn them into eggs.  What a deal!  Happy chickens and happy neighbors! These colorful eggs also bring back memories.  My Mom raised chickens when I was a kid, so I grew up on multi-colored beautiful eggs like these from chickens who get to run around outside in the sunshine.  So now, even though I don’t have my own chickens, I do have a ‘chicken bucket’ for my scraps.  I’m sure this photo will make my Mom smile…

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Sunday morning rolled around and I decided to make Eggs Baked in Avocado ‘Cups’.  Fresh eggs from happy chickens + perfectly ripe avocado =heavenly.  As is my usual way, I looked around the kitchen to see how I could snazz them up and spied a yellow bell pepper and a zucchini, which I quickly chopped into small pieces to make what I always call vegetable ‘confetti’.  Throw on some fresh parmesan, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and a handful of freshly chopped parsley, yum!  I served this as a breakfast buffet for my guests who got up at various times but it would also make a great dinner served with a fresh green salad.  The beauty is that it doesn’t have to be served piping hot.  It is just as good warm or at room temperature.  You can also vary toppings based on personal tastes or what you have on hand.

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TIPS:  The larger the avocado, the better.  Or perhaps the reverse is true as well, the smaller the egg, the better.  Most eggs won’t fit inside a regular Hass avocado, so I scooped out a bit of the avocado to make a larger opening for the egg.  Then I used the avocado I scooped out to make Avocado Mango Smoothies for all of us to sip on while we waited for the eggs to bake.  I like these so much that I now stock frozen mango chunks.  You can substitute the yogurt for a banana for a non-dairy, vegan smoothie.    Recipe HERE for Avocado Mango Smoothie

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EGGS BAKED IN AVOCADO ‘CUPS’

4 fresh pasture raised eggs (if available)
2 ripe but firm avocados
1/2 yellow, red or green bell pepper (optional)
1/2 zucchini (optional
1/4 cup shaved or grated parmesan (optional)
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

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  • Halve each avocado and remove the pit. Scoop out some of the flesh to enlarge the hole to make room for the egg.

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  • Place avocados in a small baking dish cut side up. If they are wobbly, place them snuggly in a smaller pan to prop each other up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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  • Crack one egg at a time into the holes of each avocado.

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  • If you are using vegetable ‘confetti, finely dice pepper and zucchini (or any other veggie you prefer) and saute for a few minutes in butter or oil until slightly softened.

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  • Sprinkle confetti over eggs. Season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and top with parmesan, if using.

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  • Bake at 400°F for 15 to 25 minutes, or until your egg whites are set and the yolks are to your liking. (If you don’t like a runny yolk, you can slightly beat the egg before adding them to the avocado.)

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  • To serve, top with freshly chopped parsley and a side of Sriracha.

Eggs Baked in Avocado Cups

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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4 fresh pasture raised eggs (if available)
2 ripe but firm avocados
1/2 yellow, red or green bell pepper (optional)
1/2 zucchini (optional
1/4 cup shaved or grated parmesan (optional)
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

 

  • Halve each avocado and remove the pit. Scoop out some of the flesh to enlarge the hole to make room for the egg.
  • Place avocados in a small baking dish cut side up. They will stand up better if you place them snuggly in the pan to prop each other up.
  • Crack one egg at a time into the holes of each avocado.
  • If you are using vegetable ‘confetti, finely dice pepper and zucchini (or any other veggie you prefer) and saute for a few minutes in butter or oil until slightly softened.
  • Sprinkle confetti over eggs.
  • Season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and top with parmesan, if using.
  • Bake at 400°F for 15 to 25 minutes, or until your egg whites are set and the yolks are to your liking. (If you don’t like a runny yolk, you can slightly beat the egg before adding them to the avocado.)
  • To serve, top with freshly chopped parsley and a side of Sriracha.

Avocado Mango Smoothie

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It’s the first day of Spring and you know what that means…Yes, it’s that time of year.   The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition is already out and soon we will be digging for our beachwear beachcoverups, bathing suits and for the bravest of the brave, bikinis. So when I ran across an article in Prevention Magazine offering 10 smoothies with MUFA’s that will shrink my belly fat, Aha!  Now we’re talking!  I couldn’t look away. Like I said, summer is right around the corner and I will take all the help I can get!   I’m not normally a smoothie kind of person.  I have more of an avocado or peanut butter toast in the morning habit.  Of course I drink a big glass of alkaline water – Lemon Cucumber Mint Water –  while I’m making my first cup of coffee.  Hey, it’s all about balance! That said I loved this smoothie.  Drank the whole thing.

So back to MUFA—the Flat Belly Diet powerhouse ingredient that specifically targets belly fat. There has been much talk recently about MUFAs (pronounced moo-fah) or MonoUnsaturated Fatty Acids, which are plant-based fats found in some of the world’s most delicious foods— avocado, nuts and seeds, oils, olives, and dark chocolate!  In my book, these are the foods that make dinner worth eating, however, there are claims they provide many health benefits. MUFA’s promote healthy cholesterol levels and help us absorb the vitamins we eat. Studies show that these good-for-you fats enhance heart health and protect against chronic disease. We are encouraged to eat a serving of MUFA at every meal.  This article offers 10 smoothie recipes but I only tried one.  Click through for more.Prevention 10 Slimming Smoothies

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TIPS/SUBSTITUTIONS:  I followed the recipe except I used full fat plain European yogurt instead of fat free vanilla which I don’t buy.  I’m always suspicious of what happens when they remove the normal fat that is supposed to be in foods and replace it with something, usually more sugar and unnatural ‘non-foods’.  For the extra 10 calories per cup, I’ll skip the extra sugar and chemicals, but that is just me.  For those weighing the decision to buy full or no fat yogurt, regular or Greek yogurt, here are some yogurt facts via SF Gate you might find helpful. Do you care more about calories, fat or protein?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an 8-ounce serving of plain full-fat yogurt provides about 140 calories, 8 grams of protein, 7.4 grams of fat, 11 grams of carbohydrates and sugar, and 275 milligrams of calcium. The same serving size of nonfat yogurt contains about 130 calories, 13 grams of protein, 0.4 grams of fat, 17.4 grams of carbohydrates and sugar, and 450 milligrams of calcium. Eight ounces of nonfat, plain Greek yogurt has 130 calories, 23 grams of protein, no fat, 9 grams of carbohydrates and sugar, and 250 milligrams of calcium.

Blossoms

According to my calendar, spring officially begins today at 3:45pm PDT.  Does anybody else think that is an odd time of day for a season to begin?  So although it is now Spring you wouldn’t know it if you lived in many parts of the country that are still buried under piles of snow.  In California it feels like spring has already sprung, but perhaps that is because we never really got winter this year. I think the East and the South got it all.  It’s possible that we will have a late coldsnap that will take out all of our delicate plants and blossoms but for now I’m going to relish the beautiful weather and lovely spring blooms.  Maybe I’ll make a smoothie and go sit in my garden and wait for my winter fat to melt away…

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AVOCADO MANGO SMOOTHIE

¼ c mango cubes
¼ c mashed ripe avocado (MUFA)
½ c mango juice
¼ c fat-free vanilla yogurt
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 Tbsp sugar
6 ice cubes

COMBINE all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Pour into a tall glass. Garnish with sliced mango or strawberry, if desired, and serve.

NOTES: I followed the recipe except as follows.  I used regular plain yogurt, a pinch of sugar instead of 1 Tablespoon  and a bit more lime juice. I would suggest tasting before adding more sugar because I thought it was sweet enough.  I also added more ice and water since it was too thick for my tastes.  Loved it though!

NUTRITION (per serving based on original recipe) 298 cal, 5 g pro, 55 g carb, 5 g fiber, 47 g sugar, 9 g fat, 1.5 g sat fat, 54 mg sodium

Avocado Mango Smootie

  • Servings: 16 oz
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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¼ c mango cubes
¼ c mashed ripe avocado (MUFA)
½ c mango juice
¼ c fat-free vanilla yogurt
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 Tbsp sugar
6 ice cubes

COMBINE all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Pour into a tall glass. Garnish with sliced mango or strawberry, if desired, and serve.

NOTES: I followed the recipe except as follows.  I used regular plain yogurt, a pinch of sugar instead of 1 Tablespoon  and a bit more lime juice. I would suggest tasting before adding more sugar because I thought it was sweet enough.  I also added more ice and water since it was too thick for my tastes.  Loved it though!

NUTRITION (per serving based on original recipe) 298 cal, 5 g pro, 55 g carb, 5 g fiber, 47 g sugar, 9 g fat, 1.5 g sat fat, 54 mg sodium

Wheatless Wednesday – Grainfree Pancakes

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Here is a recipe with ONLY TWO INGREDIENTS!  Yes, you read that right.  Yesterday while I was on Facebook looking at my friend, Lis’ photos from her Mexico trip, a random video that I didn’t click on started to play.  Usually these spontaneous videos really irritate me.  I don’t know what those annoying video clips are called (other than obnoxious intrustions).  For some inexplicable reason, I call them ‘drive byes”.  But I digress.  This particular drive-bye grabbed my attention (so I guess that makes me a sucker…) as it claimed to have a recipe for making delicious pancakes with only 2 ingredients.  Drum roll please…..1 banana and 2 eggs.  I just happened to have fresh eggs from my neighbor, Sandy, next door and a bunch of bananas in my fruit bowl just hovering at the almost too ripe phase.  I was intrigued and decided to give it a try.  All I can say is that I wish I had known this ‘recipe’ when my boys were little.  These pancakes are light and sweet, just the perfect breakfast for a mother who has little time but wants to feed a healthy breakfast to a  picky or gluten intolerant eater.  The ingredients are simple and the technique takes about a minute.  Just slice a ripe banana into a bowl.  Add two eggs (preferably pasture raised).  Whisk together until frothy and cook on a hot griddle.  It couldn’t be easier!

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This isn’t normally a recipe I would blog about but it’s simplicity is brilliant in that both ingredients are loaded with nutrients so these pancakes, unlike those made with white flour, are super nutritious and since they have no flour they are naturally gluten free.  Contrary to what we’ve been told, eggs are not the enemy.  In fact, one egg has lots of vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein and antioxidants, all for 70 calories. And bananas, well if you think you know everything about the unassuming banana, check out these facts you may not know about this tropical fruit:

1. Hands and Fingers – Bananas do not grow on trees. The banana plant is classified as an arborescent (tree-like) perennial herb and the banana itself is actually considered a berry. The correct name for bunch of bananas is a hand of bananas; a single banana is a finger.

2. Heart Health – One banana contains 467mg of potassium, providing powerful protection to the cardiovascular system. Regular consumption of the potassium-packed fruit helps guard against high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and stroke.

3. Bones – Although bananas do not contain high amounts of calcium, they do supply the body with an abundance of fructooligosaccharide, a prebiotic substance (one which encourages probiotics, the friendly bacteria in the digestive system). As fructooligosaccharides ferment in the digestive tract, they enhance the body’s ability to absorb calcium.

4. Energy and Mood Balancing – Another benefit to bananas high potassium content derives from that mineral’s role as an energy-supplying electrolyte. Since bananas also contain tryptophan, serotonin and norepinephrine, they help prevent depression while encouraging feelings of well-being and relaxation. In addition, the vitamin B6 in bananas helps protect against sleeplessness, mood swings and irritability.

5. Vision – Bananas, combined with the African herb orinol, have been used to treat cataracts in Nigeria. They also share with other fruits the ability to prevent macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in adults. According to a study published in the Archives of Opthmalogy in 2004, people who eat 3 servings of fruit per day are statistically unlike to develop the vision-diminishing disease.

6. Better Digestion – Bananas suppress acid in the digestive tract, alleviating heartburn and helping guard against ulcers. Since bananas contain pectin, a soluble fiber, they aid in the elimination process, helping prevent constipation.

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GRAIN FREE PANCAKES

1 ripe banana
2 eggs

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  • Slice banana into a medium bowl

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  • Add two raw eggs.

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  • Using a large whisk, smash the banana into small bits and whisk the mixture until it’s frothy.

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  • Pour by Tablespoons onto a hot griddle and cook until bubbles begin to break.

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  • Flip pancakes to cook the other side another minute or two.

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  • Serve plain or with butter, maple syrup or fruit.

Grain Free Pancakes

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 ripe banana
2 eggs

  • Slice banana into a medium bowl
  • Add two raw eggs.
  • Using a large whisk, smash the banana into small bits and whisk the mixture until it’s frothy.
  • Pour by Tablespoons onto a hot griddle and cook until bubbles begin to break.
  • Flip pancakes to cook the other side another minute or two.
  • Serve with butter, maple syrup or fruit.

 

 

Sufganiyot (Jelly Doughnuts)

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OMG!  I see why sufganiyot is all the rage in Israel during Hanukkah! Fried dough still warm from the pan, filled with yummy jam and sprinkled with powdered sugar, is pretty hard to beat. I tend to stay away from fried foods, however, on Hanukkah when it’s traditional to eat foods fried in oil, I make an exception. I recently posted a recipe for yummy Potato Latkes, which are a classic Hanukkah treat, in case you prefer savory over sweet.   I made sufganiyot quite a few years ago, following a recipe I got from Temple Emanu-El when Eric and I were taking a Mommy and Me Tot Shabbat class. We had a lot of fun making doughnuts and I remember it being a fun kid activity (the jelly and powdered sugar part anyway).  That was quite a while ago, since Eric is now turning 26!  I know the recipe is around here somewhere and I will probably find it when I’m no longer looking for it, such is the way of misplaced objects which seem to turn up right in front of your nose.  I’m fully expecting to stumble upon this recipe within the next couple of days.

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Since I couldn’t find my recipe, I turned to “The Mile End Cookbook – Redefining Jewish Comfort Food from Hash to Hamantaschen” given to me by my friend, Karin, for my birthday.  It’s a great cookbook filled with recipes for all kinds of dishes I have heard of (mostly from my Mother in Law) but never knew what they were, like Kasha Varnishkes and Kreplach.  By the way, for those left wondering, they are a noodle/grain dish and meat dumplings, respectively.  “The Mile End Cookbook” offers an easy recipe for Jelly Doughnuts, called Sufganiyot in Hebrew.  These doughnuts are light and delicious but not too sweet, although that is partly determined by the type and quantity of the jelly that is used.  I used a Santa Rosa Plum jam that I made last year from plums from my garden, which is a blend of sweet and tart that offsets the sugar nicely.  A strawberry or grape jelly will yield a sweeter result.

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TIPS: I used a bread maker set on the dough setting to make the dough but I have provided directions for both ways below.  This recipe makes 2 dozen or more doughnuts.  I made half and refrigerated the other half but it never rose quite well enough. I am not an expert baker though, so perhaps there are tips on saving dough that I don’t know.  Unless you are making for a large crowd, I would recommend halving the recipe.

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SUFGANIYOT

4 Tbsn instant yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp ground nutmeg
5 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp kosher salt
1-2 cups vegetable oil
1/2 cup jelly
1/4 cup powdered sugar
pinch coarse salt

DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING DOUGH USING HAND METHOD:

  • Add the first 6 ingredients to a large bowl and stir to combine.  Add the flour and salt and stir (or mix with your hands) until the dough comes together (it will still be wet and sticky).  On a well-floured surface, knead and shape the dough into a thick disk, transfer it to a bowl that’s greased with oil and let it rest in a warm, draft free area for 1 hour.

DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING DOUGH USING BREAD MAKER:

  •  Add the water(warmer than lukewarm but not hot), butter and eggs to the bread maker.  Then add salt, flour, sugar and yeast in that order.  Turn the bread maker to dough setting (which is usually about 20 minutes or so).  Let dough rise another half hour but watch to make sure it doesn’t hit the lid.

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FOR DOUGHNUTS:

  • On a well-floured surface, flatten the dough and roll it out into a 1/4 inch thick disk (Like a really thick pizza dough).

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  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and brush with oil.

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  • Using a 2 inch round cookie cutter or juice glass, cut out as many circles of dough as you can.

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  • Transfer circles to cookie sheet, leaving room for expansion. Collect the dough trimmings and form them into another ball, roll it out again and cut more circles.  Repeat until dough is used.

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  • Let the dough circles rest in a warm, draft free area for 1/2 hour.

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  • Heat about 1 inch of oil in a high sided skillet over medium high heat until very hot but not smoking (365 to 375 degrees).  Working in batches, fry the doughnuts until they’re golden brown on one side.

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  • Flip them over to fry the other side. (2 or 3 minutes total)

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  • Transfer to papertowels to drain.

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  • Put jelly in a pastry or Ziploc bag with a small hole cut from one corner.  When cool enough to handle, insert a small knife (I used a chopstick) into the side of each doughnut and more it around to make room in the center for jelly.

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  • Insert the tip of the bag in the opening and pipe in as much jelly as possible. If you have a cake decorating tip you can insert that in the hole before adding the jelly to the bag for easier piping.

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  • Repeat with the remaining doughnuts.

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  • Dust the doughnuts generously with powdered sugar and a pinch of coarse salt.

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Sufganiyot (Jelly Doughnuts)

  • Servings: 24
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Sufganiyot6

4 Tbsn instant yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp ground nutmeg
5 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp kosher salt
1-2 cups vegetable oil
1/2 cup jelly
1/4 cup powdered sugar
pinch coarse salt

DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING DOUGH USING HAND METHOD:

  • Add the first 6 ingredients to a large bowl and stir to combine.  Add the flour and salt and stir (or mix with your hands) until the dough comes together (it will still be wet and sticky).  On a well-floured surface, knead and shape the dough into a thick disk, transfer it to a bowl that’s greased with oil and let it rest in a warm, draft free area for 1 hour.

DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING DOUGH USING BREAD MAKER:

  •  Add the water(warmer than lukewarm but not hot), butter and eggs to the bread maker.  Then add salt, flour, sugar and yeast in that order.  Turn the bread maker to dough setting (which is usually about 20 minutes or so).  Let dough rise another half hour but watch to make sure it doesn’t hit the lid.

FOR DOUGHNUTS:

  • On a well-floured surface, flatten the dough and roll it out into a 1/4 inch thick disk (Like a really thick pizza dough).
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and brush with oil.
  • Using a 2 inch round cookie cutter or juice glass, cut out as many circles of dough as you can.
  • Transfer circles to cookie sheet, leaving room for expansion. Collect the dough trimmings and form them into another ball, roll it out again and cut more circles.  Repeat until dough is used.
  • Let the dough circles rest in a warm, draft free area for 1/2 hour.
  • Heat about 1 inch of oil in a high sided skillet over medium high heat until very hot but not smoking (365 to 375 degrees).  Working in batches, fry the doughnuts until they’re golden brown on one side.
  • Flip them over to fry the other side. (2 or 3 minutes total)
  • Transfer to papertowels to drain.
  • Put jelly in a pastry or Ziploc bag with a small hole cut from one corner.  When cool enough to handle, insert a small knife (I used a chopstick) into the side of each doughnut and more it around to make room in the center for jelly.
  • Insert the tip of the bag in the opening and pipe in as much jelly as possible. If you have a cake decorating tip you can insert that in the hole before adding the jelly to the bag for easier piping.
  • Repeat with the remaining doughnuts.
  • Dust the doughnuts generously with powdered sugar and a pinch of coarse salt.

 

Weekend in the Virginia Countryside and Old Family Recipe

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It’s 35 degrees Fahrenheit and we are in a convertible with the top down taking a drive in rural Virginia.  Crazy?  Maybe, it was cold but beautiful! My husband and I are here visiting his cousin Mitch and his wife, Barbara. Mitch isn’t really his cousin.  Their relationship is something like his mother’s sister’s husband’s sister’s son and his wife.

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Regardless, they grew up as cousins and we are on a short but sweet visit to their lovely country home nestled in Madison County right next to the Shenendoah National Park at the base of the Blue Ridged Mountains.  The area is mostly agricultural and farmland, home to many beautiful horses and cows who, I think are quite lucky to live in such a gorgeous place.

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Shenendoah National Park is best known for Skyline Drive, a 105 mile (169 km) road that runs the entire length of the park along the ridge of the mountains. The drive is particularly popular in the fall when the leaves are changing colors (which we just missed). 101 miles (162 km) of the famous Appalachian Trail are also in the park.

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 We left California early in the morning while it was still dark and landed in Washington DC in the evening, in the dark. While we were driving here, we couldn’t see anything except the road in front of us.  It was the kind of dark you can only get in the countryside where there is no illumination from ‘citylife’, so it was nice to get up on a cold but sunny morning and see green fields, rolling hills and majestic mountains.  We missed the glory of the changing of the leaves but still found some spots of color here and there.

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On our drive we ran across a tiny Old Post Office which was in operation until only a couple of years ago,Virginia2

…and the historic and picturesque Episcopalian Church

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However, I am not forgetting that this is a food blog.  I also woke up in the morning to these beautiful popovers, which Barbara had just taken out of the oven.  They were delicious!  I had mine with cold butter and orange marmalade along with my hot coffee.  Heavenly!  What a wonderful start to the day.

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Barbara shared her recipe with me and I am sharing it with you.  It is her grandmother’s grandmother’s recipe.

Old Fashioned Popovers

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 

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TIPS:  For best results, Barbara says all ingredients must be at room temperature and oven and pan should be preheated before filling.

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‘Cousins” Mitch and Barbara in their front yard.

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We left Grave’s Mill and travelled on to Charlottesville to visit our friends, Kerri and Rick.  Charlottesville is a beautiful city with big sprawling lawns and Jeffersonian Architecture, primarily an abundance of stately red brick buildings with white pillars and portico entries.  It is the home of the University of Virginia and two former presidents, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe.   Monticello, the historic plantation manor of Jefferson, maybe better known as the building on the back of the nickel, is available for tours as is  Monroe’s Ash Lawn-Highland .

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Monticello

We only had a few hours to explore so we headed to historic downtown Charlottesville. We strolled through City Market,  a large open air Farmer’s Market, which is open only on Saturdays from 7am to noon from April through December where you can buy a wide variety of fresh, local produce, baked goods and crafts.

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Then we windowshopped our way through the Downtown Mall which is a pedestrian walkway filled with shops and restaurants.

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We had lunch at Citizen Burger Bar where I enjoyed a house made quinoa, millet and beet burger

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and crispy fried pickles with Sriracha mayo. I love fried pickles, which is a treat I only see on the East Coast.

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We stayed at the Boar’s Head Inn Head Inn, a lovely 4 Star resort located on a 473 acre country estate in the Ivy district several minutes from downtown. The hotel boasts a spa, golf and tennis, a sports club and several restaurants.

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While dining at Bistro 1834 in the hotel I tried one of their Southern specialties, Peanut Soup, definitely a first for me.

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The slogan is ‘Virginia is for Lovers’.  Well I love Virginia and will be back.  Tomorrow we leave for warmer climates.  More soon! – J

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Boar’s Head Inn Photo Credit: Boar’s Head Inn. Charlottesville Architects Johnson, Craven & GIbson

 

 

 

 

 

 

World’s Best Six Braid Challah

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This is the real deal! It’s been carefully smuggled onto airplanes in backpacks and suitcases, as a prized possession, leaving little room for clothing or personal belongings.  It has graced many a Break Fast and dinner table as guest of honor.  It has been slathered with butter and devoured by many teenagers who learned to show up in my kitchen on Fridays.  In my house it’s called MaryBeth’s Challah because I got the recipe from my friend, Marybeth.  My next door neighbors call it Joyce’s Challah because… well you see the pattern here.

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I initially resisted making or buying challah on Fridays because it’s not usually made with whole grains, and I was trying to limit the amount of processed white flour that my kids consumed.  I mean something has to offset the truckloads of pizza that kids and teenagers eat.   However, tradition won out and once I got the coveted recipe from Marybeth, I started making challah almost every Friday. It helps that MaryBeth’s recipe is for a breadmaker which takes much of the work and most of the risk out of making bread.  At first using a breakmaker seemed like cheating, like it wouldn’t be ‘real’ challah.  But if Marybeth, who is President of her temple, can use a breadmaker it must be kosher.  I have very fond memories of fresh bread hot from the oven in my Mom’s kitchen. She even made challah once in a while, even though she called it egg bread not challah.  Heavenly!  Sometimes creating or honoring a tradition just has to be more important than being the food police.  So even though my challah is made with white flour (good quality from King Arthur, but still white) it is also made with love, that very important ingredient that feeds, not only the belly but also the soul.  I knew I was on the right track when my youngest son, Jackson, walked in the door one afternoon and said, “Mmmm, it smells like Friday!”

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In addition to making a gorgeous bread, some people say there is a reason we use six strands to braid the challah for Shabbat.  The six strands represent the six days of the week that we work and the challah represents the day of rest.  Braiding a six strand challah is easier than it looks.  I have illustrated step by step instructions below but if you get confused, or just like to watch how to videos, here you go:   How to Braid a Six Strand Challah  You can make one large challah, like I have done here.  It is quite impressive in size and shape and, Warning!, hits both ends of my oven.  If your oven (or pan) is not large enough, you can divide the dough in half and make two smaller but equally beautiful challahs.

The times listed are suggestions and not rigid guidelines.  You do not have to wait around the house while the dough is rising.  If you are out doing errands, don’t stress about the timing.  The dough will still be ready when you get home (within reason).  On the flip side, if your dough has risen to the top of the breadmaker but the clock says you still have 20 minutes left to rise, just take it out and start rolling.  It’s ready.  Above all, enjoy the process, especially the braiding.  It’s fun and the end result is quite rewarding.

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TIPS: All ingredients must be at room temperature, including the yeast or it won’t activate properly.  If you have forgotten to take the eggs out of the refrigerator, put them in a bowl of lukewarm water for about 10 minutes.  Cold yeast can be premeasured into a small dish and left to warm up for about 10 minutes. In measuring flour, never scoop the flour out of the container as it can be more condensed and your measurements can be off.  Instead, put your measuring cup in the bottom of a medium sized bowl and pour the flour into the cup.  Using the flat edge of a knife, remove extra flour.  After measuring, pour excess flour back into the container.

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MORE TIPS: Make sure you have your breadmaker pushed far enough back on the counter as they can move around during the mixing process.  My breadmaker has a death wish and has actually flung itself off the counter twice and somehow, is still going strong.  Maybe it’s part cat too.  Other words of wisdom would include pinching (or securing) the two ends of the challah well before cooking.  If not done properly you can end up with a male challah.  Just saying…
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  • Put ingredients in breadmaker in the order listed.  Make a shallow well after adding the sugar and put the yeast it it.  Process on the “Dough Only” cycle.  In my machine this is an hour and a half process but sometimes I let it continue to rise another 30 minutes.

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  • Remove the dough from the machine.  If it seems slightly sticky, lightly flour your working surface.

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  • Divide the challah dough into 6 equal pieces, easiest done by cutting first in half and then each half into thirds.  It’s okay if they aren’t exact.

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  • Roll each piece of dough into a long rope.

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  • Line up the ropes and pinch them together at the top and fold the pinch under.

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  • Braid from the right.  Take the rope on the far right and go over two ropes and under one and then over two.

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  • Repeat this process, always working from the right, pulling on the ropes a little if need be, until they get too short to braid.

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  • Tuck ends under and give them a pinch underneath to get them to stay.

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  • Reshape the top if necessary and check both ends to make sure they are secure.

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  • Transfer to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone sheet.  Cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour.

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  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat remaining egg and brush it over the top of the challah.  Reserve egg wash.  Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds if desired. Bake about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.  It’s better to overbake than underbake.  Check at the 15 or 20 minute mark to see if any white cracks have formed near the folds from expansion.  IF so brush on a light layer of egg wash and continue baking.

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You Made It2

If you make this or any other Goodmotherdiet recipe, please send me a photo either by posting a message in comments or send a message to  the Goodmotherdiet Facebook Page and I will post your photo and comments to my new You Made It! Page.  Love my readers! Check out what they’ve made so far. Click the link or the tab at the top of the page.

MaryBeth's Challah

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

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3 eggs (2 lightly beaten, 1 saved for the egg wash before baking)
1 cup warm water (warm to the wrist, about 100 degrees)
1/2 cup oil (my preference is Grapeseed but another good vegetable oil will work fine)
2 tsp salt
5 cups white flour (preferably bread flour but all purpose is fine)
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsn yeast

  • Put ingredients in breadmaker in the order listed.  Make a shallow well after adding the sugar and put the yeast it it.  Process on the “Dough Only” cycle.  In my machine this is an hour and a half process but sometimes I let it continue to rise another 30 minutes.
  • Remove the dough from the machine.  If it seems slightly sticky, lightly flour your working surface.
  • Divide the challah dough into 6 equal pieces, easiest done by cutting first in half and then each half into thirds.  It’s okay if they aren’t exact.
  • Roll each piece of dough into a long rope.
  • Line up the ropes and pinch them together at the top and fold the pinch under.
  • Braid from the right.  Take the rope on the far right and go over two ropes and under one and then over two.
  • Repeat this process, always working from the right, pulling on the ropes a little if need be, until they get too short to braid.
  • Tuck ends under and give them a pinch underneath to get them to stay.
  • Transfer to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone sheet.  Cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat remaining egg and brush it over the top of the challah.  Reserve egg wash.  Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds if desired.
  • Bake about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.  It’s better to overbake than underbake.  Check at the 15 or 20 minute mark to see if any white cracks have formed near the folds from expansion.  If so brush on a bit of egg wash and continue baking.
  • Enjoy!

 

 

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Egg in a Basket

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Can you think of a happier breakfast than eggs Sunnyside Up? Think sunshine and smiley faces. How about stretching the cuteness factor by cooking them inside colorful bell pepper rings?

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I found this new twist on the traditional Egg in a Hole (also called Egg in a Basket, Toad in a Hole, Turtle in a Shell, One Eyed Jack or Pirate’s Eye) on Natashas Kitchen.  In the traditional dish you cut out a circle from a slice of bread, fry it in some melted butter and cook the egg inside the hole.  In this new and improved version (which is originally a Martha Stewart brainchild), you use slices of bell pepper instead of bread to contain the egg while it cooks which adds a shock of color as well as flavor.  Its also a good way to get people to eat their veggies in the morning.  As an alternative, this can also be done with scrambled eggs.  Just whisk the eggs with salt and pepper, and divide the mixture between each pepper slice.  Eat plain if you’re a purist or top with cheese, avocado and fresh tomato for a more filling breakfast.  Serve with fruit and you’ve got a delicious and nutritious start to the day and it takes only about five minutes to prepare.

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Eggs got a bad rap for a while and we were  advised for years to avoid eggs or limit our consumption of them due to their high cholesterol content.  It is now recognized that, for most people, cholesterol in food we eat doesn’t increase cholesterol in our bodies.  The real culprit is refined foods like white flour and sugar or polyunsaturated oils that cause inflammation in our bodies, resulting in heart disease and other health issues. In reality eggs are loaded with protein, vitamins and minerals, most of which are in the yolk.  For a good article on why the egg is considered the perfect food read The Truth About Food.  All eggs are not considered equal, however.  95 to 98% of eggs come from factory farms where conditions are inhumane and create food safety problems (for starters.)  The List of Reasons to Boycott Factory Farms is almost endless, the least of which is from a nutritional standpoint.  Factory Farmed eggs are less expensive but you get what you pay for.  Eggs from factory farms are nutritionally inferior to eggs from hens raised on pasture. According to Mother Earth News,  real free-range eggs contain:

• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene
• 50 percent more folic acid
• 70 percent more vitamin B12

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TIP:  I buy organic, free-range or pasture-raised, Certified Humanely Raised eggs (from an actual farm not a factory).  If I’m lucky, I get eggs raised in the backyard next door in exchange for the extra produce from my garden.   I also buy organic produce whenever possible.  I think it’s worth the added expense and I like to support the farmers that do it the ‘right’ way.  Sometimes its hard to know if your produce is organic or not, if it’s not labeled. I learned a handy tip from Dr. Oz (yes, on TV).  In supermarkets check the sticker with the barcode.  If the barcode starts with a 9 it’s organic.  For example, the green pepper I just bought has a barcode of #94065, which makes it organic.  A conventional green pepper would be labeled #4065.  Check it out next time you go shopping!

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Egg in a Basket

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 bell pepper (any color)
1/2 avocado
1 medium sized tomato
4 large eggs
Salt
Pepper
¼ cup grated cheese (any combination of parmesan, mozzarella, reggiano, fontina, etc.)
1 Tbsn any fresh herbs, minced (parsley, cilantro, basil, etc)
1 Tbsp olive, coconut oil or butter

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  • Cut pepper into 1/2″ rings and remove the seeds and centers.

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  • For more color use a variety of bell peppers.

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  • Cut avocado in half vertically, remove pit and slice into rings. Slice tomatoes horizontally into rings.

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  • In a large, non-stick skillet, heat  oil over medium/high heat.   Place sliced peppers into the pan and let them saute for a minute.

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  • Turn the peppers over and crack one egg into the center of each bell pepper slice. Pour the egg in slowly; it prevents the egg from leaking and forms a nice seal.  If some egg leaks out just use a spatula to push it back under. It might help to press firmly down on the pepper slices while you pour in the egg. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until the whites are set and the yolk is runny.  Top with cheese, if desired, and serve.

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  • For overeasy, turn over and top with cheese, if desired, salt and pepper.  Cook another minute, two for over hard.

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  • Cover to melt cheese, if desired.

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  • Top with avocado and tomato, if desired.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and/or fresh herbs.

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Tgif – Fun With Fruit!

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With fruit at it’s peak right now and plentiful, don’t be afraid to be creative.  Check out this collection of 16 Ideas For Amazing Fruit Salads from BuzzFeed which includes this charming fruit salad using a hollowed out citrus bowl and a wonderful watermelon grid salad.  Don’t miss the Pineapple Palm Tree Buffet.  It could be just what your next summer party needs…

Happy Friday!

 

Photo Credit:  charmingtrinity.com