Putting Presents to Good Use

Noah and I received several kitchen-related gifts lately that have brought us great joy. Number 1 on this list would definitely be a pizza stone from Noah’s parents for Chanukah. Noah has been making pizza about once a week with it, and my quality of life has undoubtedly improved.

Step 1:


Step 2:


Step 3:


Repeat steps 1-3 with different topping combinations:


The proud chef:


Who needs to go out for date night when you have this at home?!:


Two other wonderful gifts from Noah’s parents included the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Cookbook (also for Chanukah last month) and two, recently-delivered boxes of Harry and David Pears:

IMG_8903 IMG_8907

The pears arrived last Thursday, so I thought they would be good to incorporate into a dessert for Shabbat dinner on Friday night. It seemed like the obvious choice to head to the King Arthur Cookbook for a good-looking pear recipe. I ended up making a few recipe adjustments based on what ingredients I had on hand, but the final result was a pear and blueberry tart:


I think I put a tad too much cinnamon in at the end, but the tart was still fruity/sweet/good. I’m looking forward to more pears in the days to come!

Thank you, Paul and Eve, for the wonderful gifts!


Pumpkin French Toast Bake

The season of pumpkin continues here in Jerusalem! Last week I went to a pumpkin-themed potluck, and, in fact, I will be attending another one at the end of this week as well! For last week’s potluck, I made a pumpkin french toast bake following this recipe with only a few modifications (just cinnamon and nutmeg instead of pumpkin pie spice in the pumpkin filling, challah rolls instead of Hawaiian rolls, and no pecans/powdered sugar for the topping)

Since the recipe requires time to sit in the fridge and set before baking, I started it on Wednesday night to bring it to serve on Thursday. To begin, I combined one package of cream cheese, powdered sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl:

IMG_5368 IMG_5369

In a separate bowl, I mixed milk, pumpkin puree, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla:

IMG_5373 IMG_5374

I tore three challah rolls into small pieces and placed them in the bottom of a round baking pan:


On top of the bread, I layered half of the pumpkin mixture, the full amount of the cream mixture, and the other half of the pumpkin mixture:

IMG_5376 IMG_5377 IMG_5378

I covered this to rest in the fridge overnight, and the next day I prepared the topping of flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter:

IMG_5397 IMG_5399 IMG_5398 IMG_5400

I baked the french toast for 40 minutes at 350º until it was browned on top:




Dense and Delicious Brownies

After last week’s cooking experiment with avocado chocolate cake, I was eager to try another dessert recipe using the big green monster.


When I was asked to bake another dessert to bring to a Shabbat meal this weekend, I decided to make a recipe for brownies using avocado as a dairy replacement again. I found this recipe online and used that as a starting point for the recipe listed below. *full recipe at bottom of page

To begin, I (vigorously) beat together 4 eggs and 2/3 cup white sugar:


Then, I heated 8 oz. non-dairy semisweet chocolate chips on the stove top until just melted:

IMG_4916 IMG_4917

So much love chocolate!!

I quickly re-stirred the egg/sugar mixture and then stirred in the melted chocolate.


Next, I added 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cocoa powder, and 2 tsp vanilla to the mixture and stirred until it formed a smooth, thick batter:

IMG_4919 IMG_4920

Next up…mash the avocado!


The avocados in Israel are ENORMOUS, so I only used one. If you are using regular size avocados I would use two though. Once the avocado was sufficiently mashed, I added it to the batter and stirred until it was thick, smooth, and had no visible green flecks:

IMG_4922 IMG_4923

I poured the batter into a 9 inch round baking pan and baked for 45 minutes at 350º. If I had a better stocked kitchen, I think it would be better to bake in a square baking dish (I would also check to see if the brownies are set starting at 30 minutes).

They came out wonderfully.

IMG_4924 IMG_4925

The brownies were extremely dense, moist, delicious…all the good things. Last week’s cake had a little bit of the ‘healthy’ flavor to it, but these could have passed for brownies teeming with butter and heavy cream. Definitely a good contribution to any meal. 🙂

Dense and Delicious Brownies
- 4 eggs
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 8 oz. chocolate chips (non-dairy if necessary)
- 1/2 cup wheat flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 very large or two small mashed avocados
- Vigorously beat together eggs and sugar in a large bowl
- Melt chocolate chips on stovetop over low heat until
just melted
- Quickly re-stir eggs/sugar and add in melted chocolate 
and stir until well combined
- Add flour, cocoa, and vanilla, stirring to combine
- Mash avocado and then add to the batter
- Stir until a smooth, thick batter forms
- Place in a 9 inch round or square baking dish
and cook for 30-45 minutes at 350º (I would
check the center of the brownie to see if firm
starting at 30 minutes)
- Allow to cool and slice, if desired



Halva Banana Cake

Today was my first baking experiment in Israel! I think it went pretty well. 🙂

I bought some halva (a Middle Eastern dessert/candy made out of sesame and honey, often sold in large bricks) earlier in the week, and quickly realized that it would be an incredible feat to eat the whole amount of halva straight.


So…I decided to incorporate it into a baked good! The result: halva banana cake! *full recipe below

First, I mixed together 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup white flour, a scant 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon:


Next, in a separate bowl, I mashed 3 small bananas:

IMG_4796 IMG_4797

With the bananas, I mixed two eggs, 1/3 cup applesauce, 1/3 cup greek yogurt, and 1 tsp. baking soda:


I combined the wet ingredients with the dry ones:


And then added 3/4 cup crumbled halva to the batter:


Once the halva was stirred in, I poured the batter into a buttered cake pan and added another 3/4 cup of crumbled halva on top:

IMG_4803 IMG_4804

I baked for 40 minutes at 350º and…

photo (13)

YUM YUM YUM! The little hole is from where I put the knife in to test it before it was quite done…


 - 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

 - 1/4 cup white flour

 - scant 1/2 cup sugar

 - 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

 - 3 small mashed bananas

 - 2 eggs

 - 1/3 cup applesauce

 - 1/3 cup greek yogurt

 - 1 tsp. baking soda

 - 1 1/2 cups halva


 - Combine flours, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl and
stir to combine

 - Combine bananas, eggs, applesauce, greek yogurt, and
baking soda in a bowl
 and stir thoroughly

 - Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and
stir to combine

 - Stir into the batter 3/4 cup crumbled halva

 - Pour batter into a buttered cake pan

 - Sprinkle another 3/4 cup of crumbled halva on top

 - Bake for 30 minutes at 350º F (175º C - useful temperature
conversion for my Israeli oven!)

Almond Butter Bread

I love putting almond butter on bread, so why not try putting it in bread, right? I’ve never made a bread like this before, but I think it came out really well and will be particularly delicious with jam…it’s like a pb&j with only half the work!

Almond Butter Bread
*full recipe below

To begin, I combined 2/3 cup creamy almond butter with 1/4 cup sugar:


In a separate bowl, I combined 1 and 1/4 cups of white whole wheat flour with 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Slowly, I alternatively added the flour mixture and almond milk (1.5 cups total) to the almond butter/sugar.

I had some extra dates in my kitchen leftover from hamantashen baking, so I chopped them up and threw them in the batter too. I imagine that almost any type of fruit or chocolate (ESPECIALLY CHOCOLATE) would taste great as well.


Once the dates were folded in, I poured the batter into a well-buttered bread pan:


And baked for one hour at 350º and then had…


Beautiful almond butter bread!

Almond Butter Bread
- 2/3 cup creamy almond butter
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 T baking powder
- 1 t cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1/2 cup dates, fruit of choice, or chocolate
- Combine the almond butter and sugar in a large bowl
- in a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder,
and cinnamon
- alternate adding flour mixture and milk
to the almond butter/sugar, making sure to thoroughly
combine at all stages
- fold fruit or chocolate into the batter
- pour into a buttered bread pan and bake for one hour
at 350º

And, since the oven was hot, I threw in a batch of cottage cheese biscuits for good measure.


Couscous Breakfast Bake

My original plan was to make some sort of baked oatmeal that I would use for breakfasts throughout the week. Unfortunately, that plan was foiled by the fact that I only have about a half cup of oatmeal in my cupboard.

Wanted: a grain that I own in abundance. Found: couscous. Couscous for breakfast, you say? It can be done! (full recipe below)

It’s simple really. All you need are these basic ingredients…

photo(121) photo(120) photo(119) photo(118)

milk (or something like it) + allspice + cinnamon + raisins (or dried fruit of choice) + couscous

Mix it all together with the appropriate quantities and pour into sprayed baking dish:


TIP: make sure to spray the dish the first time instead of pouring it in, realizing you forgot to spray, taking it out, cleaning the dish, drying the dish, actually spraying the dish, and repouring the mixture. Not that I did that or anything. 😉

Bake it at 450° for 25-30 minutes until browned:


looks like breakfast!

This combined with caramelized bananas and nut butter, #SeeYouEveryMorningThisWeek

Couscous Breakfast Bakeserves 4
- 1 cup couscous
- heaping 1/4 cup raisins or dried fruit of choice
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 and 1/4 cup milk substitute of choice (or milk...if you're into that)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. 
Pour into a greased baking dish and bake for 
25-30 minutes at 450°

Yep. It’s that easy. 🙂