Desserts from around the web

I’ve gotten into the habit of bringing dessert to Shabbat meals. This has served as a perfect excuse to make several of the dessert recipes that have been sitting on my ‘sweet things’ Pinterest board for days months years. It’s problematic to make an entire pan of brownies or a cake for myself, so Shabbat is the perfect opportunity to make a mouth-watering dish of sugar-chocolate-sweet-love (take your pick).

Here are a few highlights of desserts made in the last month. I didn’t make up any of the recipes, so I just link directly back to the original recipe source.

I made this flourless chocolate cake from Satisfying Eats. I had a slight mishap because I accidentally bought a can of straight coconut cream as opposed to canned coconut milk, so I had to dilute the cream with water to make it more milky…nonetheless it came out well.

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It may have been my cooking errors, but this wasn’t a cake that held together (don’t expect to eat it with your fingers!). I served it warm and gooey, eaten with spoons. This would be absolutely divine with some vanilla ice cream!

Next up were applesauce brownies from Something Swanky. Although they are advertised as healthy, they do not have ANY of that these-are-brownies-but-taste-sort-of-like-health-food thing going on. They are rich and dense and seriously delicious.

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I made two pans: one topped with chocolate chips and one topped with walnuts. This was my contribution to last week’s Thanksgiving meal. 🙂

While both of the previous two desserts were quite good, this next one is a whole other level. This is a gooey pumpkin spice latte chocolate pudding cake from Oh She Glows. Seriously, the name says it all. This cake is made in an unusual way; You make the batter, pour it into the pan, and then dump some hot coffee on top of it. It will look like something has gone terribly wrong and this will never be anything that tastes good:

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But, somehow, a miracle will occur when you put it into the oven and it will turn into this:

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In my opinion, this recipe was TOP NOTCH. For anyone who likes chocolate or pumpkin or things-that-taste-good, I suggest cooking this ASAP.

And, finally, the biggest crowd-pleaser I made were these oatmeal chocolate chip cheesecake bars from Lovely Little Kitchen. They were a bit labor intensive to make because there were a lot of layers (crust, cheesecake, chocolate topping), but overall it was totally worth it.

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These bars were a HUGE hit. In fact, several people have mentioned them to me again since that meal. So, if you are looking for something that will make people happy, I would suggest this recipe as a good candidate.

And one last food shot of what I’m baking right now….

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No desserts in the oven for this Shabbat, just some good old-fashioned challah. 🙂

 

Chicken Cashew Curry

Curry is one of my favorite, fast meals. The ingredients are super flexible, so it’s easy to make quickly from whatever’s in your fridge, and it’s always delicious! I was craving the chicken-cashew combo last week, so I threw together this curry in only about 30 minutes.

*full recipe below

To start, I chopped three shallots and two carrots:

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I cooked these in a pan with about a tablespoon of coconut oil until the onion started to turn slightly translucent:

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Next, I added one large chicken breast, cut into small pieces and cooked until the chicken was white on all sides:

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Lastly, I added a half can of coconut milk, some curry and paprika, and about a cup of frozen broccoli:

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I stirred to combined and let simmer for about 10 minutes until the broccoli was soft and the chicken fully cooked through. Just before the end, I put in about 1/3 cup of cashews:

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Yum!

Chicken Cashew Curry, makes 3 servings
Ingredients
- 3 shallots
- 2 carrots
- 1 T coconut oil
- 1/2 can of coconut milk
- 1 large chicken breast
- 3 T curry powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 cup frozen broccoli
- 1/3 cup cashews
Method
- chop shallots and carrots
- cook in coconut oil in a large skillet until onion turns translucent
- chop chicken and add, moving pieces until all sides are white
- add coconut milk, curry powder, paprika, and broccoli
- bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes
- just before removing from heat, stir in cashews
- serve with quinoa, rice, or grain of choice!

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:

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

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

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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:

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

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

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Yum!

Pumpkin Beef Chili

Thank goodness for canned pumpkin, allowing people everywhere to make pumpkin flavored dishes. I picked up a couple cans of pumpkin at the grocery store last week and was excited to make something using one of them. I found this recipe online and decided to make something similar.

*full recipe below

To start, I prepped the veggies by chopping 2 carrots, one red pepper, and half a white onion.

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I also prepped a spice mix by combining 1 tablespoon each of paprika and cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon each of red pepper flakes and cinnamon.

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I put the vegetables along with 1 lb. ground beef in a skillet with some coconut oil, stirring occasionally until the meat browned:

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Meanwhile…I chopped three small tomatoes:

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Once the meat browned, I added the tomatoes to the chili along with the spice mix:

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For the final touch, I added half a can of pumpkin, mixed thoroughly, and heated through:

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I served the chili with bread and it made for a hearty meal!

Pumpkin Beef Chili, serves 4
Ingredients
 - 1/2 white onion
 - 1 red pepper
 - 2 carrots
 - 3 small tomatoes
 - 1 T cocoa powder
 - 1 T paprika
 - 1 t cinnamon
 - 1 t red pepper flakes
 - 1/2 can pumpkin puree (15 oz)
 - 1 lb. ground beef
Method
 - chop onion, pepper, and carrots 
 - combine cocoa powder, paprika, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes
 in a small bowl to have ready
 - heat ~1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a skillet and add the
 onion, pepper, carrots, and ground beef
 - cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is browned. While the meat
 is browning, chop the tomatoes
 - after the meat is browned, add tomatoes, spice mix, and pumpkin
 - stir to combine and continue cooking until heated through
 - serve warm with bread or grain of choice

Lentil Salad

A couple weeks ago, I made a lentil salad to bring to a potluck. The dish was SUPER easy to make and turned out delicious! *full recipe below

To start, I chopped one onion and sautéed it in a little bit of coconut oil until it started to brown:

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Next, I added 1 cup of brown lentils, 3 cups water, and 2 chopped carrots:

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After stirring around, I added in 1 tsp each of rosemary and thyme:

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I let everything simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 40 minutes until all of the liquid was gone:

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Once finished, I let the lentils cool on the stove for about half an hour before transferring to the refrigerator and serving cold the next day. This recipe required very little active time and tasted great at the next day’s lunch!

Lentil Salad
 serves 10 as a side dish
 Ingredients
 - 1 onion
 - 2 carrots
 - 1 cup lentils
 - 3 cups water
 - 1 tsp. thyme
 - 1 tsp. rosemary
 Method
 - chop onion and saute in saucepan with coconut oil or
 other oil of your choice until starting to brown
 - add lentils, water, and chopped carrots
 - stir and then add thyme and rosemary
 - simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until water is gone
 - serve hot or cold

In other news…

Noah and I recently enjoyed a brief visit to a toy store we found near Hadar Mall in Talpiot. The exterior of the store drew our attention, so we peeked inside to see what it was all about:

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SPOTTED: an Israeli version of a minecraft building set:

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That looked fun, but princess puzzles are more my sort of game:

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And finally, a big highlight from my week…

receiving a ‘Shanah Tovah’ (literally ‘good year,’ said as a greeting around Rosh Hashanah) chocolate with my Aroma coffee:

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There is something so completely lovable to me about the visibility and commercialization of Jewish holidays in Israel. I guess sometimes it’s nice to not be in the minority. 🙂

Avocado Chocolate Cake

Kashrut is a Hebrew word meaning ‘fit’ or ‘proper.’ Although it has several applications in Jewish law, kashrut is most often spoken about in relationship to food and the Jewish dietary laws. To explain the entire system of dietary laws here is a much larger undertaking than I am interested in, so I will VERY briefly sum up the highlights: no pork, no shellfish, no mixing of meat and dairy , and no eating dairy after meat for 1, 3, or 6 hours (depending on who you ask). Due to the prohibition against eating meat and dairy together, traditional Jewish meals are classified as either halavi (dairy) or basari (meat). Restaurants in Israel serve EITHER dairy dishes OR meat dishes, and meals within homes are also given the same classification. Therefore, after being invited to a Shabbat meal and being asked to bring dessert, my first question was, “Is it a meat meal or a dairy meal.” The answer, “Meat.”

No. That does not mean I would be making a dessert with meat in it. It does, however, mean that the dessert cannot contain any dairy products – milk, yogurt, cheese, butter, and other creamy things that often find their way into the end-of-meal deliciousness.

Fear not, dessert lovers, because there is a solution! It’s BIG. It’s green. It’s still creamy:

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Yes. The avocado is the magical replacement ingredient for dairy. While others may be bringing margarine-laden delicacies to Shabbat meals, I am powering my meat-meal dessert with the fatty avocado (a good kind of fat, if you’re interested!).

I decided that I wanted to make a chocolate avocado cake, loosely based on this recipe*see the full recipe for my cake below

First, mix together the dry ingredients of whole wheat flour, white flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda:

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In a separate bowl, mix together melted coconut oil, water, apple cider vinegar, 1 mashed avocado, and white and brown sugar. This will quite possibly look gross. In fact, the one in my kitchen looked quite gross, hence my artistic decision not to include a photograph of this particular step. Don’t worry though, it will still taste great!

After you mix the wet ingredients (as listed above), combine them with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly:

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Pour the batter into a large pan (two small pans would be preferable  – I just didn’t have) and cook for 45 minutes at 350º.

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When the cake comes out of the oven, allow it to cool for about 30 minutes. While you’re waiting…make the frosting!

Combine two cups powdered sugar with cocoa powder and cinnamon:

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Add (another) mashed avocado to the mix and stir until the frosting takes on an even consistency:

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Once the cake sufficiently cools, you can layer and frost it! Since I had only the large pan to cook in, I ended up cutting the cake in half and making layers that way. If you have two pans, I have no doubt that would be much easier!

Full cake (with avocado flecks – don’t be scared of the green!):

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Half cake (otherwise known as the first layer):

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Frosting and layers:

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Yummmmm

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Tell your guests that the green bits are actually delicious. And that it’s healthy. And no one will care. Or, just get a food processor. 😉

Ingredients
For the cake:
- 4 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cups white flour
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 3/4cups water
- 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 ripe avocado, mashed
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
For the frosting:
- 1 ripe avocado, mashed
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
 Method
 - for the cake, combine cocoa powder, flours, cinnamon, baking 
powder, and baking soda in a large bowl
- separately, combine coconut oil, water, apple cider vinegar, 
mashed avocado, and sugars
- add the wet ingredients to the dry, transfer to a pan and cook
for 45 minutes at 350º
 - as cake cooks, make frosting by combining all ingredients
and stirring thoroughly until smooth
- allow cake to cool for at least 30 minutes before frosting

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.

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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:

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

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

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I combined the wet ingredients with the dry ones:

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

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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:

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I baked for 40 minutes at 350º and…

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

Ingredients

 - 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

 Method

 - 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!)

Recipe Round Up: Putting the Internet to Use

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how easy it can be to bookmark tons of delicious looking online recipes and then never actually make them. In my previous post, my goal was to use a different breakfast recipe from my Pinterest board each morning. The experiment was highly successful and I enjoyed the variety to my breakfasts and the sense of accomplishment – it felt like I made an achievement when I could put a mental check next to all the recipes I made!

Since then, I’ve tried to continue actually making some of the recipes I set aside ‘for later.’ Here are the highlights of what I’ve tested from around the web in the past week:

Whole Grain Brown Soda Bread from Texanerin Baking
served below topped with tuna, melted cheese, with an asparagus and carrots side dish

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Oatless Oats from ‘fitting it all in’
topped with yogurt, dried currants, and cashew butter

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Bison Meatballs with Sage Onion Gravy from the Whole Foods Market Recipe App

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All this ‘cooking by the book’ got me inspired to try some of my own recipes, so I made up some of my own creations for the kitchen…

Peachy Green Tea Smoothie

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Ingredients
- one peach, chopped
- 2 T chia seeds
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 T of edible green tea whole tea leaves
- 1/4 cup steel cut oats
- 1/4 cup yogurt
Method
-Combine peach, chia seeds, 3/4 cup of the almond milk, 
and green tea in a container and let sit in the refrigerator overnight
- In the morning, cook oats with 3/4 cup water
- combine oats and chia seed mixture with yogurt and remaining
milk in an emersion blender
- blend and enjoy!

I poured my smoothie into a bowl and ate it with a spoon because somehow it tastes better that way!

Basic (but not boring) Taco Meat

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Ingredients
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 onion
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 T coconut oil
Method
- chop onion and saute in coconut oil just beginning to soften
- add meat and cook until no longer pink
- add tomatoes (including juice) and spices
- simmer for 5 minutes and serve with tortillas, avocado,
or the toppings of your choice

 

Homemade Pizza

Big news from my day…

1. I biked to work because the week of no sunshine finally ended and the weather was A++++ beautiful!

2. I finally severed my relationship with Comcast, effective June 1. They said, “why are you canceling your service.” I said, “Because I’m moving somewhere that doesn’t have Comcast.” In my mind, I said, “Because I hate you with a passion that burns within the deepest parts of my soul and I will do everything in my human ability NEVER to use any Comcast service again.” Ahh…fantasy.

3. I updated my iPhone to the latest operating system. I have a natural skepticism towards upgrades, but my reluctance to do so was interfering with my ability to facetime. Woe is me.

4. I listened to a great radio show by my baby bro (8-10pm EST on Mondays, http://wamh.amherst.edu/)

5. I have now completed a third consecutive day without chewing gum (a record from the last 6 years!!). I wonder how long I need to go before I can say I’ve broken the addiction and am safe to reintroduce the substance in moderation. 🙂

6. I made homemade pizza!

I have had my eye on a yeast-free pizza dough recipe I pinned to my Pinterest board a long time ago. I decided to make the dough recipe and scrounge up whatever toppings I could from what I already had in my kitchen.

Making the dough could not have been easier. You mix everything in one bowl, spread it on a baking tray, and cook for 10 minutes at 400º. so simple

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While the crust baked, I worked on assembling toppings. I identified the following as possible toppings: black beans, tomato, green onions, smoked mozzarella cheese.

I started by making a black bean hummus to use in the traditional role of tomato sauce. I drained and rinsed one can of black beans, combined it with 3 tablespoons olive oil, and then pulverized the whole thing using an immersion blender.

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I chopped the tomato and green onions and grated 6oz of smoked mozzarella cheese (cheese unpictured):

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After the dough baked into a crust (10 minutes), I topped with the black bean spread, then tomatoes and green onions, and finally cheese:

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I put the pizza back in the 400º for fifteen minutes and…

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yumyumyum. I served with mixed greens on the side:

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After dinner, I made a cup of ginger yogi tea and was told these wise words:

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“Live in your strength.” It caught my attention because it made me wonder what my strength to live in is. What’s your strength to live in?

 

Sweet Potato Soup

On my latest trip to The Wedge, I picked up a couple sweet potatoes.

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When most people hear sweet potatoes, they think something like this:

Sweet Potatoes[source]

In reality, sweet potatoes come in several colorations and many varieties have darker skins with a cream-ish, almost white, interior. I bought some dark purple-skinned and cream interior sweet potatoes and ended up making a delicious soup. *full recipe below

When I bought these sweet potatoes, I wasn’t sure what would become of them. I had some extra beef broth in my fridge from the Passover brisket, so I quickly settled on a soup. This recipe was SO easy and came together in no time with very little prep work.

First, I roughly chopped a half onion and cooked for about 5 minutes in a small bit of olive oil:

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Next, I added 1.5 cups beef broth, 1 cup water, and 2 chopped sweet potatoes:

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I covered the soup, brought to a boil, and simmered for about 30 minutes until the potatoes were very tender:

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Once the potatoes were completely soft, I removed the pan from the heat and used an immersion blender to puree the soup. I made sure to get rid of all the big chunks, but I didn’t blend for so long that the soup lost texture.

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This soup didn’t even need any spices – the broth and vegetables made it so flavorful!

Sweet Potato Soup
Ingredients
- two sweet potatoes
- 1/2 onion
- 1.5 cups beef broth
- 1 cup water
- olive oil
Method
- heat olive oil in a soup pot
- chop the onion, add to pot, and cook over medium heat for 
5 minutes
- add the potatoes, broth, and water
- cover the pot and bring to a boil
- simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender
- remove pot from heat and puree with an immersion blender 
until smooth but still textured