Friday, September 26, 2014

Happy New Year

Dear Turkey,

'Tis the season for all non-Jews to be jealous of the Gastronomical Jews who have decided that we're Jewish enough this year to take Rosh Hashanah off.

This year I put myself in charge of Rosh Hashanah:

Me: I'm going to be in charge of Rosh Hashanah
My Mom: Okay, well, your aunt usually makes a brisket, and a roast chick-
Me: Take it or leave it, Mom, and, PS, you have to watch my child

Despite these age-old archetypal holiday issues, I think everyone was impressed with my Rosh Hashanah-authority. I even printed out "those special words" (that's what my son called them), and we all said them together in what could not be called Hebrew even by animals that don't have ears or bilateral symmetry.

Here's what I made:

First, I made this really easy Challah (inspired by this Challah that I thought was really easy before I made this one). I kept the ingredients mostly the same, omitting the starter, and replacing the orange zest with a diced apple. I just let it rise in the bowl for an hour or so, and then plopped it onto my baking stone (with parchment). You don't even have to braid it for Rosh Hashanah, so I just painted it with one egg and 1 T sugar and baked it according to the directions. Remember, "if it's brown, it's cookin'; if it's black, it's done" - my grandma. 

For dinner:

Mushrooms and barley, veggie kugel, and kasha and bowties. 

It's really easy to make kasha and bowties and mushrooms and barley at the same time, since they are basically the same thing. Just double the onion and mushroom saute. Then soak 1 c kasha (buckwheat groats) in 1 egg and add it to the designated half of the saute. Cook until the egg is mostly gone, about 5 mins. Then add 4 c of hot veggie broth (the dark kind), and cook until the broth is mostly gone (a pattern). Meanwhile, cook 8 oz of bowtie pasta and toss with butter. Then combine everything with more Jewish spices and parsley if you want. 

For the veggie kugel: chop 1 sweet potato, 1 zucchini, 1 carrot, and 1 onion in the food processor (it's worth it). Then combine that with 1 c flour, 1 t baking powder, a few T salt, some pepper, and 4 eggs. Grease a baking dish like it's your job and bake it at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, finishing under the broiler. Serve with hot sauce.

This meal is great because you can make everything earlier in the day and warm it all up in the oven right before you eat. 

For dessert:

Apple and honey pie bars. I used my usual recipe for the crust, adding 1 t lemon zest. Then I put half of the crust in the pan and then spread a big jar of apple butter (without added sugar) on that. Then I added the rest of the crust and drizzled honey on top. 

Enjoy (no more than 18 minutes before sundown),

Monday, September 22, 2014

Cupcakes for Breakfast

Dear Turkey,

Sometimes people want cupcakes for breakfast. And they are two years old so what that means is that they really just want to eat the frosting.

I considered this a baking challenge.

First of all, I don't like cream cheese frosting. But cream cheese is an acceptable breakfast food (especially if you're growing), and I thought I would like it if
1) I made it and
2) It wasn't so full of sugar and butter that it tasted like cheesecake (which I don't like)
I was right.

For the cupcakes, I made some of these (French Yogurt Cakes), using fat-free plain yogurt, 1/2 c soy milk instead of eggs, 1 scant c (or container) sugar, and 3 c (or containers) white flour plus 1/2 c each of whole wheat flour and unsweetened cocoa. They taste healthy, but that's the point, right? And they are still tasty. This recipe makes 24 cupcakes; you will have to double the frosting recipe if you want to frost all 24, but you might not.

The frosting recipe was adapted from this classic book.

Healthy Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 oz cream cheese (room temp)
4 T honey
1 t vanilla
3-4 T unsweetened cocoa

Just mix it all together (that's it!).

And now for something the rest of us can eat for breakfast:

Healthy, Easy, Fluffy Cinnamon Raisin Bread


2/3 c sourdough starter (optional)
1 c flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 scant c warm water
1 T yeast
1 T salt
1 T oil
3 T honey
1 T cinnamon
1/2 c raisins


Combine starter, water, yeast, honey, and oil. Knead in remaining ingredients and knead for a few minutes after a ball forms. Rise 1 hour covered in a warm place. Punch down and rise again for a few minutes or an hour, whatever you have. Transfer gently to a parchment-covered baking stone and dust with flour. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Another Guest Post!

It's a guest post from people on weird diets!

Here is my guest post contribution to your fabulous blog, about a year late (I'm blushing). A different spin on rice and beans, excellent for using veggies from your CSA and/or attempting to get more veggies into your family (I am going for both!). I sautéed onion (1 large), 3 shallots, 3 leeks , 5 carrots, 3 celery ribs and 2 garlic (diced) with salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaves, deglazing w/white wine. While cooking veggies, start 1 cup dry rice in rice cooker.
I added two 32 oz. cartons of Imagine No Chik Broth and brought to a simmer for 4-5 minutes.
Next I added 11 oz Super Greens, I usually use spinach but this sounded so healthy! Let wilt in simmering broth, 1-3 minutes to your (or your family's) preference.
Finally, add cooked rice and 1 can of your favorite beans (I used cannellini today but chickpeas are also great). Were this just for me, I might add 3 cans but my family complains if I up the bean ratio (so picky!). Grated parmesan cheese on top is awesome (if you aren't on a stupid restrictive diet that denies you dairy products like I am. I miss dairy so much more than I can express... Sigh). My family plans to add spinach cheddar tortellini to their dinner bowls.

Just a note to say my dinner table was uncharacteristically quiet last night. Everyone was busy eating and had far less time for complaints or demands. I got the ultimate compliment, "Mama, this is REALLY good. Seriously! I'd eat this again." This from a child who cannot eat the same meal within a week to ten day timeframe because it gets boring. Hmmm. I call that success. And, if you're a weirdo like me, it makes a great breakfast too! :)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Good Curry That Your Mom Will Like

Dear Turkey,

I love Indian food. However, I sometimes feel gross after I eat it out (since tons of butter, salt, and ghee make things taste good), so I like to make it at home (it's easy, you just say: honey, make me some curry). Making curry for my parents is a challenge because they don't like spicy food (I know). But this is a winner; I didn't feel gross, it was tasty, easy, and used up things from my mom's (the tomato pusher's) garden.

Easy, Healthy, Fast Curry adapted from this quality blog.



Chop an onion and a few cloves of garlic and cook it in a few T of oil in a big, heavy pot with 1-3 T (to taste) of: salt, curry powder, cumin, coriander, ginger, and turmeric. I used ground spices but you don't have to. Add a few T of lemon juice and cook on really high heat until it's splattering all over the kitchen and the spices are so dark you think it's about to burn. Then add a few big chopped tomatoes so your mom doesn't make you take them home, or a can of diced tomatoes (undrained), and two cans of chick peas (rinsed and drained). Cook all of this for a few more minutes until the tomatoes fall apart and the chick peas are starting to brown. Then throw in a handful of spinach that won't even make a dent in the amount that's in your mom's garden. (If it's going to frost that night, your mom is probably worked into a frenzy.) Blend this with an immersion blender, but leave some chunks. Season to taste. 

I served this with Jasmati rice that I cooked with a little salt, lots of Tabasco sauce, and...

...Quick, Easy, Fast (did I say quick and fast?), Naan:

I love the prepackaged Naan from the grocery store, but it costs like $5 for one package. This was really easy (and quick, and fast). I adapted it from here.

Ingredients (for 2 flatbreads -- I would double it next time):

2 c flour
2 T sugar
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
6 T plain yogurt + a few T water to make a workable dough (if you use nonfat yogurt, you can add olive oil instead here)


Knead everything with your hands until it comes together. Let it rest, covered, for half an hour or so if you have time. With a floured rolling pin, roll it out as thin as you possibly can (it's hard, don't stress, just give up when you get tired), and cut it into rounds. Then, heat up an ungreased (besides whatever it's seasoned with) cast iron pan on medium heat (the pan should get pretty hot pretty fast). Put a round directly on the pan. You'll think it will stick; it will be okay. It will smell like burning; it will be okay. After a minute or two it will start to get brown with a few black areas. Flip it and cook the other side the same way. Serve with the curry and rice:


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cast Iron Pizza

Dear Turkey,

Since I don't have a brick oven in my backyard that was built by a famous French mason (not to mention, my yard is covered in snow for many months out of the year), I love cast iron pizza. Cast iron pans are amazing, you don't have to wash them, they go in the oven, and iron is good for you (I just read that cooking with cast iron is a good way for toddlers to get enough of it).

I've made cast iron pizza before, but I didn't go into much detail (I was distracted by the M&Ms).

First, I want to say that there is no reason that you can't make pizza dough right before you want to have pizza. Yeah, it tastes really sophisticated if it's been in your fridge for a week, but there is also a direct relationship between age and difficulty to work with.

Here is the dough recipe that I used, adapted from King Arthur Flour:


3 c flour
1 c warm water
2 t yeast
2 t salt
1 T oil
1 T sugar


If you are in a hurry, combine the water, sugar, yeast, and oil and stir. Let stand for a minute or two. Then add the flour and salt and knead with your hands until it comes together, and then for another minute or two. Let it rise for as long as you can for a warm place (or, if it's going to be all day or longer, in the fridge, covered). I just let it rest uncovered in a 100-degree oven for 20 minutes or so.

I split the dough in two and stretched it into two disks, which I placed in the bottom of two WELL oiled and salted cold cast iron pans.

Second, if your mom is a tomato-pusher, this is a great way to use up some of the stuff she won't stop giving you (especially if it isn't quite fresh enough for a salad anymore). I topped my pizzas with caramelized (or sautéed if you're in a hurry) onions, arugula, tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, basil, garlic, fresh mozzarella, and shredded parmesan.

Now for the fun part: heat both of the pans on the stove for 3-5 minutes, or until you are so sure they are going to burn that you can't stand it anymore. Then, CAREFULLY put them in a 400 degree oven for 10-20 minutes more, until everything on top is brown.


- Tofu

Sunday, September 14, 2014

How To Make People Like Vegan Food

Dear Turkey,

Here are two ways to get people to like your vegan cooking:

1) Put cheese on it

2) Don't tell them it's vegan until they are done eating and they've already gushed about how good it was

For case #1, I present "Vegan" Zucchini Wrapped Enchiladas (with cheese):

This is a really awesome dish, and it would be almost as awesome without the tiny bit of cheese that I sprinkled on top, but let's start slow, people. My mom had this in a restaurant and then I was inspired by this recipe.

For the filling:

1. Bake 2 sweet potatoes until there is no doubt in your mind that they are done. Roughly chop them (leave the skin on).
2. Saute a little onion and garlic with some oil and cumin, and then add one regular-size can of black beans (undrained). Cook everything down until most of the liquid is gone, and then add the potatoes. Stir/mash for a few minutes until everything blends together but most of the beans are still whole.

For the wrappers:
1. Using a mandoline (or way better knife skills than I have) thinly slice 2-3 medium zucchinis lengthwise (you are aiming for 10-20 slices from EACH one). I know, this is when I asked myself if it was really going to be worth it or if I should just break out the tortillas. 
2. Line up 4-5 slices, slightly overlapping, to make a rectangle. Put a big dollop of filling inside and then roll it up (if your slices are thin enough, it will work!).

1. Pour some olive oil in the bottom of a glass baking dish. Then pour about 1/3 of your sauce (I used Old El Paso Medium Enchilada Sauce -- I am ashamed, but it's tasty) into the bottom. Place the enchiladas in, and top with the rest of the sauce, and cheese, if you're not vegan.
2. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes and then broil for just a minute or so.

1. With rice, avocado, mango, and hot sauce. 

For case #2, I present VEGAN Cupcakes with VEGAN Buttercream:

I've been looking for a cupcake recipe that doesn't use eggs so that my little one can eat the batter. These came from this blog that I respect but has way too many pictures. They call them "One Bowl..." and that is so true; there are no eggs, so you don't even have to wash the bowl between batter and frosting. Unless it bothers you that I licked
I am going to reproduce their recipe below. The only modifications I made were that I omitted the sprinkles from both and, in the frosting, I used 2.5 c of confectioners sugar and 1/2 c cocoa. Earth Balance vegan butter works really well here, even if you take it right from the freezer and microwave it almost to melting (for the frosting, too). I'm sure you can replace the non-dairy milk with regular milk, but I would be careful exchanging the vegan butter for real butter, it doesn't always work.

INGREDIENTS (Serves: 12)
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), softened
  • scant 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup rainbow sprinkles* + more for topping
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • Splash non-dairy milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a standard muffin holder with 12 paper liners.
  2. In a liquid measuring cup, measure out non-dairy milk and add vinegar or lemon juice. Let set to curdle/activate.
  3. Add softened butter to a large mixing bowl and cream with a mixer. Then add sugar and vanilla and beat until combined and fluffy - about 2 minutes.
  4. Add dry ingredients (omitting sprinkles) to a sifter in this order: 1 cup flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and then remaining 1/2 cup flour.
  5. Sift over butter/sugar mixture alternating with the almond milk mixture. Blend until until well incorporated and no large lumps remain.
  6. Add sprinkles and gently fold/stir with a rubber spatula or mixing spoon.
  7. Divide evenly among cupcake holders making sure NOT to overfill. These do best at 3/4 of the way up.
  8. Bake on a center rack at 350 for 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. They will only have a very, very slight golden brown color.
  9. Let cool completely on a cooling rack. In the meantime, prepare frosting.
  10. Wipe clean your mixing bowl and add softened butter. Beat until light and fluffy. Then add vanilla and mix once more.
  11. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and continue mixing until thick and creamy. Drizzle in a little non-dairy milk to thin. You want this frosting to be very thick so it will hold its shape once on the cupcakes.
  12. Once cooled, frost cupcakes and top with sprinkles. Serve immediately. Store leftovers covered at room temperature or refrigerated.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Mung Bean Smoothies

My Fellow Americans,

You know that I am already judging you for not embracing interesting flavors that everyone else loves. (Why don't we have taro flavored medicine?) In the spirit of adventure, I am introducing you to the mung bean smoothie:

It's delicious,

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mom, Stop Giving Me Tomatoes (until tomorrow)

Dear Turkey,

Does your mom never stop giving you tomatoes? When you say you have enough, does she sneak five or ten more in your tupperware (so that it won't close) and then get mad when you refuse to take them home? Have you eaten so many tomatoes that your lips are starting to get sores on them and you have perma-heartburn (oh, that's just me?)?

In case you forgot, here is an awesome way to use up tomatoes (no, not the custard, you have to scroll down). I really improved it this time, too. First I broiled tomatoes, chilies, garlic, and shallots, with some salt and just enough oil so they didn't stick:

You can see that I really increased the amount of "other stuff":tomatoes. That was crucial. I broiled them until they were really getting black on top. Then I blended it up with more salt, and a few t of lemon juice and sugar (crucial). Last time I added water and I think that was a mistake:

I served this on some beans and rice. I wanted to make it a little more interesting than usual because I didn't have any cheese. One piece of advice: if you don't have cheese, put lots of butter in the rice and nobody will notice. For the beans, I used the usual suspects (no, not banana bread, scroll down):

For dessert, Happle Muffins. We love happles at our house (you know, you pick them at the Happle Farm). However, some of my constituents don't like big pieces of happle in their muffins, so I grated them. I took less than one story on NPR, and it was totally worth it.  

Happle Muffins:
(makes 24)


3 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c ground flaxseed
5 t baking powder
1.5 t salt
1.5 t cinnamon
2 eggs or 1/2 c sour cream
1.5 c milk of your choice (not breastmilk)
2/3 c oil
1/2 c sugar + 2T brown sugar
2 apples, grated (don't peel them on my account) (I really wanted to write "happles," here, but then when you try to search for this recipe later, and you forgot that I said "happles," you will get no results)
cornmeal, for dusting, optional

Mix but don't overmix. Bake at 400 degrees, 20-25 mins. Use muffin papers.


Monday, September 8, 2014

More Pasta Salad That I Actually Like

Dear Turkey,

You might remember that I have some opinions about what makes a good pasta salad. (Mayo lovers, you will have to agree to disagree with me here if you want to survive the rest of this post). Here is another one:

As you can see, I served this with caprese, so I didn't put any cheese in it (I let people add their own feta if they wanted to).  I love this salad because the white beans, olives, and elbows are perfect salad-size, and they contrast with the crunchy, slightly-bigger cuke pieces.

Awesome not-creamy pasta salad:

2-3 c elbows, cooked al dente (I rinsed them with cool water a little bit because I didn't want to heat the cuke too much, but I also wanted them to be a little warm to help the dressing and the flavors absorb and mix, and also to wilt the parsley)

1 cuke, quartered and then sliced

1 tiny can sliced black olives, rinsed 

1 regular can small white beans, rinsed

1/4 c parsley, cut up small

Dressing (if the pasta is warm enough you can probably get away without mixing this beforehand and just throwing it all in): a few T or 1/4 c olive oil (depending on how much dressing you like), same amount red wine vinegar (I used chianti red wine vinegar), 1 t salt, 1 t pepper, 1 T sugar (start with less if you don't want it too sweet; I think dressings should be sweet), 1 T lemon juice.

Feta, optional

This was really good slightly warm right when I made it, and it was also really good cold the next day.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Another Guest Post!

Dear World,

Just when you were starting to think I didn't have any friends, everyone's favorite neighbor-guest-poster came through. You can tell she's really excited about this because she used A LOT OF UPPERCASE LETTERS! (I'm excited, too): 

(Vegan)*** Banana Peach Spice Bread***

depends on how you choose to use the ingredients--I used milk and the chocolate chips, which makes it not vegan

(This is from, but I tweaked it, so it's only 3/4 plagiarized (because I am calling it mine, mostly because of the chocolate chips addition), also you can do apple instead of peach)

2 large bananas
1 peach, peeled
1 Tbsp white vinegar + 1/3 c soy milk= vegan buttermilk
1/2 c sugar (I used raw sugar, and cut this to 1/3, it depends on how sweet you want the bread)
2 c white wheat flour
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 c white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray 9x5 loaf pan with oil.  Mix soymilk and vinegar until it curdles.  Mash bananas and peach together, add the buttermilk and sugar and stir.  Separately (which I never do), mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.  Add dry ingredients to wet and stir.

Bake until knife comes out clean-40-50 minutes.

(I got this recipe from my Mom, who got it from somewhere?  probably Penn State ag. extension--I also added a few ingredients!!)


Picture and testimonial by Tofu (you can tell because it's my dishes):

This bread is really amazing. You will want to include a plastic fork so you can share it with your little one. I used 3 bananas (and no other fruit), regular whole wheat flour, and regular chocolate chips.