Blueberry Protein Breakfast Smoothie

Hon, you know how it goes. This summer, I’ll work out more. This summer, I’ll recharge my mind. This summer, I’ll eat healthier. I’m trying! One of my favorite “this summer” changes is making protein smoothies for breakfast. This recipe by The Nutrition Twins is my favorite!

Is there something you’ve added to your diet or routine that’s made you feel good this summer?


Blueberry Protein Weight Loss Breakfast Smoothie

“Enjoy this sipster for breakfast to take the edge off hunger, prevent overeating, flush bloat and help set your mind & body on the healthy track.” The Nutrition Twins

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries (I often used frozen mixed berries.)
  • 1/2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetend vanilla almond milk (I alternated between almond and coconut milk.)
  • 1 scoop vanilla plant-based protein powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (ok, if not fresh)
  • water to blend
  • Extras: banana, drops of liquid ginger

Directions:

Blend this all together and drink! Enjoy!

Best Black Bean Burgers

Photo courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction

I love good veggie burgers but, often, one bite in and they fall apart. There I am making a mess, while attempting to use a fork and knife to eat a crumbling burger.  No more with my new favorite Black Bean Burger recipe thanks to Sally’s Baking Addiction. SBA advises partially drying out the black beans to cook “big, thick, hearty, and flavorful” burgers that can be grilled or baked. Whether they’re eaten on a bun, plain, or on a salad, these delicious veggie burgers are “easy, healthy, satisfying, juicy, spicy and NOT MUSHY!” They were a winner with my family and friends.

Happy cooking, hon!

BLACK-BEAN BURGERS

Ingredients:

  • 2 (14 ounce) cans black beans, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper (1/2 of a pepper)
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (1/2 of a large onion)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 Tablespoon)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs or oat flour
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, optional
  • corn kernels cut off 2 ears cooked corn-on-the-cob, optional (left over from the previous night’s dinner)
  • 2 large eggs (to make vegan & vegetarian, see note)
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (to make vegan & vegetarian, see note)
  • 2 Tablespoons ketchup, mayo, or BBQ sauce
  • pinch salt + pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Spread beans evenly onto a lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until slightly dried out.
  2. Sauté olive oil, chopped pepper, onion, and garlic over medium heat until peppers and onions are soft, about 5-6 minutes. Gently blot some of the moisture out. (My veggies weren’t too liquidy, so I skipped this.)
  3. Place sautéed mixture in a large bowl with remaining ingredients (cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, bread crumbs, cheese, eggs, Worcestershire, ketchup, salt, and pepper). Add beans. In a food processor, pulse everything together. (Tip: you may need to process mixture in small batches.) Alternately, the bean/veggie/spice mixture can be mashed with a fork. Either way, don’t completely mash the beans. Leave some larger chunks of beans to create a “bulky and satisfying texture.”
  4. Form into patties– about 1/3 cup of mixture in each. Shape the black bean burgers however large or small desired, keeping in mind the larger they are, the more unevenly they’ll cook. To bake: Place patties on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake at 375°F (191°C) for 10 minutes on each side, 20 minutes total. To grill: Place patties on greased aluminum foil and grill 8 minutes on each side. “Generally, black bean burgers should grill on medium-high heat about 350°F (177°C) – 400°F (204°C).”
  5. Serve with favorite toppings. Store leftovers in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Yield: 6 to 7 burgers

Notes:

  1. Freezing Instructions: Stack cooked or uncooked patties between parchment paper in a freezer container or zipped-top bag. Thaw in refrigerator and reheat or, if uncooked, cook according to instructions above. Thawing can be skipped; just cook from frozen for an extra couple minutes.
  2. Vegan & Vegetarian: Since Worcestershire sauce is not vegan or vegetarian, leave out or replace with a condiment such as BBQ sauce. To make burgers vegan burgers, (1) leave out the Worcestershire sauce or replace with favorite vegan condiment, (2) leave out the cheese, and (3) replace the eggs with 1/3 cup mashed sweet potato.
  3. Creative Toppings:  For a light lunch, skip the bun and eat on a salad. Creative toppings ideas are mashed avocado + caramelized onion, pepper jack cheese + spicy mustard + sweet pickles, herbed goat cheese + roasted red peppers, sriracha + sautéed mushrooms, mozzarella + pesto, corn salsa + cheddar cheese, or even chunky mango guacamole, BBQ sauce + Swiss cheese + grilled pineapple

Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

merlin_150672999_92f7eb0d-5f5c-4fe0-baa4-8935414e67d2-articleLarge
Image c/o Julia Gartland for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Liza Jernow.

Does the world need more Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes? Yes, yes, it does! 

“Our 11 Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipes,” a compilation by Margaux Laskey for the The New York Times, is now saved on my computer because, Hon, you can bet I’ll be working my way down the list. I tried the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, attributed to Ruth Wakefield, the 1930’s inventor of the chocolate chip cookie, who ran the Toll House Inn, a popular restaurant in eastern Massachusetts, with her husband.

Using an ice pick, Wakefield broke a semisweet chocolate bar into little bits, mixed them into brown-sugar dough, and the chocolate chip cookie was born. In 1939, she sold Nestlé the rights to reproduce her recipe on its packages (reportedly for only $1) and was hired to write recipes for the company, which supposedly supplied her with free chocolate for life. This recipe is very close to Mrs. Wakefield’s original (hers called for a teaspoon of hot water and 1/2-teaspoon-sized cookies), and the one you’ll still find on the back of every yellow bag of Nestlé chocolate chips.

Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups/12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.
  2. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixing bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if using. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
  4. Refrigerate for about an hour.
  5. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Yield:  approximately 5 dozen

Roasted Cauliflower with Date-Parsley Gremolata

Shout out to my daughter Morgan and her new cookbook Eating Out Loud, Bold Middle Eastern Flavors for All Day, Every Day by Eden Grinshpan. I love it when Morgan cooks dinner!

Of the cauliflower– ‘Its deep, roast-y deliciousness is the perfect counterpoint to the sweet, herbaceous date-parsley gremolata. You are going to be blown away by how much brightness you get from the preserved lemon and how the dates balance the tartness with their dense texture.”Of the cauliflower– “Its deep, roast-y deliciousness is the perfect counterpoint to the sweet, herbaceous date-parsley gremolata. You are going to be blown away by how much brightness you get from the preserved lemon* and how the dates balance the tartness with their dense texture.’

Eating Out Loud by Eden Grinshpan

Roasted Cauliflower with Date-Parsley Gremolata

Roasted Cauliflower

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Gremolata

  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted Medjool dates (about 5)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • approx. 1/2 lemon juice, squeezed from fresh lemon (*The recipe calls for preserved lemon, but Morgan used freshly squeezed lemon juice.)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Roast the cauliflower: Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the olive oil and salt. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet (or two-you want to make sure the florets have room to breathe so that they get cartelized and crispy instead of steamed) and roast until the cauliflower is golden brown, 20 – 25 minutes.
  3. Make the gremolata: In a large bowl, mix together the dates, sparsely, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. If making this ahead, leave out the vinegar until just before you serve.
  4. Scatter the gremolata over the roasted cauliflower and serve.
  • Yield: Serves 4.

Passover Seder, Easy Charosets Recipe

Charosets and desserts are usually my contribution to our extended family’s Passover seder. But, due to the pandemic and worry over COVID, this is the second year we aren’t all gathering. I always thought Charosets on the seder plate was a representation of mortar enslaved Jews used to when they were forced to build those gorgeous pyramids in Egypt. Little did I know there this dish’s significance was up for discussion!

Meaning 

Charoset (חֲרֽוֹסֶת, pronounced ha-row-sit) is a sticky, sweet symbolic food that Jews eat during the Passover seder every year. The word chariest derives from the Hebrew word cheres (חרס), which means “clay.” 

In some Middle Eastern Jewish cultures, the sweet condiment is known as halegh.

Origins 

Charoset represents the mortar that the Israelites used to make bricks while they were slaves in Egypt. The idea originates in Exodus 1:13–14, which says,

‘The Egyptians enslaved the children of Israel with back-breaking labor, and they embittered their lives with hard labor, with clay and with bricks and with all kinds of labor in the fields—all their work that they worked with them with back-breaking labor.’

The concept of charoset as a symbolic food first appears in the Mishnah (Pesachim 114a) in a disagreement between the sages about the reason forcharosetand whether it is a mitzvah (commandment) to eat it at Passover.

According to one opinion, the sweet paste is meant to remind people of the mortar used by the Israelites when they were slaves in Egypt, while another says that the charoset is meant to remind the modern Jewish people of the apple trees in Egypt. This second opinion is tied to the fact that, supposedly, the Israelite women would quietly, painlessly give birth beneath apple trees so that the Egyptians would never know that a baby boy was born. Although both opinions add to the Passover experience, most agree that the first opinion reigns supreme (Maimonides, The Book of Seasons 7:11).

by Ariela Pelaia, Learn Religions, June 25, 2019

Charosets

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups walnut pieces (or finely ground walnuts)
  • 3 large apples
  • 4 Tablespoons sweet red wine, or to taste
  • 4 Tablespoons honey, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, or to taste
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon, or to taste
  • dash nutmeg

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, process walnuts until finely ground, then transfer to a mixing bowl.
  2. Peel apples, core and cut into quarters. Process in food processor until finely chopped. Place in mixing bowl.
  3. Add remaining ingredients. Combine well and taste to correct seasonings.

Passover Apple Cake

Passover starts Saturday, March 27, 2021 and the entire holiday is focused on food! There’s what we can’t eat:  bread and anything that can rise bread-like, such as corn. And there’s what we can eat:  matzah, better known as crunchy cardboard (unless it’s soaked in eggs and milk and fried into Matzah Brei). Recipes that turn matzah meal, cake meal, and other Passover products into something edible–maybe even delicious–are coveted and shared. I substituted flour for matzah meal and converted an Apple Cake recipe to Pesadich, the term for food that’s allowed during the holiday.

If I have time in between cleaning out my fridge and cabinets and cooking for the holiday, I’ll post more recipes.

Hag Semach or Happy Holiday, Hon!

To make enough Apple Cake for 12 people, I tripled the ingredients, listed below, and added two batters-worth to a bundt cake pan and one batter-worth to the recommended 8″ x 8″ cake pan so that there will be enough dessert for 12 people.

Passover Apple Cake

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (I divided this into 3/4 cup granulated sugar to be mixed with eggs and 3/4 cups combo granulated sugar and brown sugar to be mixed with spices.)
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice (It may have been redundant to add this, but I had it in the house, so figured why not?)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil, plus more for baking dish
  • 5 medium apples, such as Golden Delicious or Crispin, peeled, cored, halved, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 5 cups)
  • 3/4 cup matzo cake meal (I ran out of matzo cake meal, so I added rice flour to make up the difference.)
  • 1/3 cup raisins (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack set in the center. Lightly spray an 8-inch-square glass baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. (I used a metal, square baking dish.)
  2. Mix together walnuts, 3/4 cup sugar (combo granulated and brown sugar), nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cardamom, and clover in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat eggs on medium speed until well combined. Slowly beat in remaining 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, until mixture is thick and foamy. With the mixer running, slowly pour in oil. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Stir in matzo cake meal.
  4. Pour half of the batter into prepared cake pan. Add a layer of apples (just add them haphazardly), sprinkle raisins and half of the walnut/spice mixture. Pour remaining batter in pan. Top with remaining apples and sprinkle remaining walnut/spice mixture over apples.
  5. Transfer cake to oven and bake until the sides of the cake pull away from the baking dish very slightly and topping begins to caramelize, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove cake from oven and let stand for several hours until completely cool, before cutting. Keep cake covered tightly with plastic wrap for up to 2 days, as the flavor improves with age.

Yield: Makes one 8-inch square cake.

What’s For Dinner? Sweet-n-Sour Meatballs Recipe

Photo care of Eli Kovacs.

In the last few weeks, several friends and family members have asked for this recipe. Maybe the cold weather and snow has put them in the mood or maybe it’s because it’s delicious. Either way, this Sweet-n-Sour Meatballs recipe is easy and a winner!

Happy cooking, hon.

–I prepare and bake my meatballs before simmering them in sauce for approximately 25 minutes.

–Don’t eat meat? Try Trader Joe’s “Meatless Meatballs” or a similar product. Simmer them in the Sweet-n-Sour for about 25 minutes.

Sweet and Sour Sauce:  In a shallow pan, mix one 15-oz can of whole berry cranberry sauce with about 8 ounces of chili sauce. Simmer meatballs in sauce on medium to medium-high, adding salt and pepper and any other spices you like to taste. Simmer for about 25 minutes. Serve over pasta or rice.

Meatballs ready to simmer in your sauce of choice.
Meatballs ready to simmer in your favorite sauce.

Meatballs

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef

1/2 cup bread crumbs

about 1/4 to 1/2 cup water

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried parsley (or fresh parsely)

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground mustard

between 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (or 1/4 ground garlic)

dash of black pepper and dash onion powder (or about 1 tsp finely chopped onion)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking trays with heavy duty foil and spray with non-stick spray.  Combine ground beef with the bread crumbs, water, egg and spices.  Mix thoroughly.  Form meatballs and line trays.  Cook for approximately 25 to 30 minutes total, checking meatballs after 10 to 15 minutes.  I turn each meatball over and rotate trays in oven for more even cooking.  When you think the meatballs are done, cut one in half to make sure it’s brown all the way through. They can be light brown on the inside and not overly cooked on the outside since they will cook more when simmered in sauce.

Serving the same night? Simmer in sauce on medium to medium-low heat for approximately 25 minutes.  Serving in the future? Cool first, then refrigerate for a few days or freeze in an airtight container.

Yield: depends on the size of the meatballs, but about a couple dozen.

Hearty and Healthy Beef Stew

Cold Weather Comfort Food

I’ve made Beef Stew before, but wanted to change it up. Researching other recipes, I found some that simmered in a crockpot and some that baked in an oven. (Yes, you read right. Who knew?). I decided to use a crockpot, combining recipes for Ina Garten’s “Ultimate Beef Stew” (Food Network) and Chungah’s “Slow Cooker Beef Stew” (Damn Delicious). The only addition needed? A loaf of bread. This combination requires a bit of prep time, but it’s now my go-to Beef Stew recipe because it was hearty, healthy, savory, and delicious! Plus, there was enough leftover for future meals. Yay!

Hon, hope you find your own comfort during this strangest of holiday seasons.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cups chopped fennel*, trimmed and cored (1 large bulb)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
  • 4 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, including the juices
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1 pound carrots (4-5 carrots), scrubbed and cut 1/2 inch thick diagonally
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes (2 large potatoes), scrubbed, 1-inch diced
  • 2 celery stalks, cut diagonally into slices
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and sliced lengthwise
  • 10 ounces frozen peas
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 bay leaves

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Season beef with salt and pepper, to taste. Add beef to the skillet and cook until evenly browned, about 2-3 minutes. (Tip: Drain cooked beef on paper towels before adding to crockpot. If there’s a lot of oil left in skillet, once it cools, wipe it down before heating up wine.)
  3. Place beef, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and peas into a 6-qt slow cooker. Stir in beef broth, Worcestershire, thyme, paprika, turmeric, and bay leaves.
  4. Heat 1/3 cup of the wine in skillet over medium heat. Add onions, fennel, garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 7 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  5. Stir tomato paste and diced tomatoes into the vegetables. Bring to a simmer for a few minutes. Add to crockpot. Stir ingredients until well combined; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours.

Notes:

–The original recipes call for less meat, but I used 3 pounds so that there’d be enough for now and later.

–If, like me, you’ve never cut fennel before, click here to watch Melissa Clark’s video. Now I know!

Yield: Approximately 8-10 servings.

Mini Pumpkin Pies

Bite-Size Pumpkin Pies!

Thanksgiving tradition in our home calls for Apple and Pumpkin Pies so, in addition to baking Mini Apple Pies, I baked bite-size Pumpkin Pies. Referencing Sally’s Baking Addiction, the recipe below combines hers and mine. Shhh–don’t tell. I couldn’t wait until Thanksgiving to try one. Hon, it was delicious!

Warm holiday wishes to you and your family.

Before baking and after.

Tips:

  • Grease or line mini muffin cups in two 24-count mini muffin pans.
  • Use a 2.5 inch cookie cutter or a 1/3 cup measuring cup to cut dough into small circles.
  • Sally’s Baking Addiction says, “These mini pumpkin pies are dough heavy– lots of crust in each bite. The filling really has to stand out, so we’ll use flavorful brown sugar and extra pumpkin pie spice.”
  • SBA also suggests using a touch of black pepper. “No one will know it’s there– all they’ll taste is a delightfully spiced flavor.”

Ingredients:

  • 2 unbaked pie crusts (homemade or store bought)
  • 1 (16oz) can cooked pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy creamer
  • small pinch black pepper (optional – see note)

Directions:

  1. Prepare pumpkin pie filling by beating 2 eggs, then adding remaining ingredients and mixing thoroughly.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°.
  3. Roll pie crusts to 1/8″ thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using a 2.5-inch cookie cutter (or 1/3 cup measuring cup), shape mini crusts. Re-roll any scrap pieces of pie dough as needed to cut out the circles.
  4. Place the small circles of dough into greased or lined 24-count mini muffin pan(s). Press the dough flat into the bottom of the crevice and up the sides.
  5. Evenly spoon cold filling into each unbaked crust, filling to the top.
  6. Bake mini pies until the center is just about set and edges are lightly browned, about 21-25 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan. If greased well, the mini pies pop right out using a spoon to scoop them up. Cool, then serve at room temperature or refrigerate until chilled and serve cold. Filling deflates a bit as they cool.
  7. Cover leftover pies tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes:

Store any leftover Mini Pumpkin Pies in the refrigerator for up to 5 days OR wrap, freeze, and defrost at a later date.

Yield: 48-50 mini pies