September 19, 2014

Decadent Mint Cookies n’ Cream Ice Cream (parve)

minticecream3

Ben & Jerry’s Mint Cookies & Cream Ice Cream is my all-time favorite ice cream.  The frozen white cream of the cookie mixed with mint ice cream is just so heavenly that I had to find a way to replicate it, albeit pareve, so that it could be enjoyed after a very meaty Shabbos meal.  As I was playing around with this recipe I thought of Ben & Jerry who add lots of candy and cookies to their ice cream flavors, I decided  to add some chocolate mint candy to it along with the cookies.  Ice cream is to me what chocolate is to the rest of the world, making this combination absolutely irresistible.

Special thanks to KosherScoop for providing me with  BaktoFlavors Peppermint Extract and Golden Vanilla Cane Sugar to perfect this decadent delight.

Recipe

Ingredients:

16 ounces non-dairy topping (frozen parve whip cream in liquid form)

1 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup BaktoFlavors Golden Vanilla Sugar that has real vanilla beans in it)

1 cup soy or coconut milk

3/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract

1 cup crushed chocolate sandwich cookies with vanilla cream inside (parve)

1 cup mini chocolate mint lentils

optional: green food coloring.  (I am not a fan of using food coloring so I don’t use this but if you need your mint ice cream to be green, that’s how you do it. )

Directions:

Whip the non-dairy topping until creamy (not yet whipped) with an electric mixer

Add the sugar and soy milk and keep mixing until creamy

Fold in the crushed cookies and mint lentils

Freeze overnight in airtight container & enjoy!

Strawberry-Banana-Mango Detox Energy Smoothie

strawberry-banana-smoothie

I’ve been on a quest recently to eat more healthfully, boost my metabolism, lose weight and still have energy for my family and work.  On this quest I’ve been reading up on many different programs that all seem to transform your body and life, like Paleo and Young & Raw.  While I’m not yet ready to make a complete commitment to these extreme lifestyle changes, I’m learning a lot about the healthy, healing nutrients found in nature, nutrients our bodies crave.  I’m also much more aware of what I’m putting into my body and my children’s bodies, because as the saying goes, ‘you are what you eat’.

I recently came across some Detox Smoothies from YoungAndRaw.com and while I haven’t yet made many of their smoothies, mainly due to lack of available ingredients on my end, their recipes gave me the idea for a Detox Smoothie of my own.  It seems the secret detox ingredients are both Coconut Water and Cilantro.  I’ve added Chia seeds, ground vanilla beans and greek yogurt to the mix for added energy, protein and sweetness.  I make a double portion in the morning and have it for breakfast. I leave the rest in my fridge for  a late afternoon healthy snack to give me energy right before my kids pile home.  Its also a great healthy afterschool snack for the little ones, especially if you mix it with ice and make it a frozen treat.   Its filling, healthy and tasty! Go ahead and get creative and use some or all of these ingredients, mix in your own favorite fruits and vegies and make up your own Smoothie!  The key remember is to remember how healthy, tasty and beneficial natural fruits and vegetables can be!

Strawberry-Banana-Mango Detox Energy Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 frozen banana

1 cup frozen strawberries

1/2 cup mango

1 handful fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon ground vanilla beans (I got mine compliments of KosherScoop from www.baktoflavors.com)

1 tablespoon of Chia Seeds (here’s the link to the Kosher brand I get from Amazon)

1 Tablesopoon of plain Greek Yogurt  (I use Chobani brand but I understand from my visit to Kosherfest this year that Norman’s and Mehadrin have Chalav Yisrael Greek Yogurt coming out on 2013).  You can also substitute Coconut milk here.

1 cup Coconut Water.  You can substitute Coconut milk, almond milk, or rice milk if you find the flavor of coconut water too much to handle.

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a blender and mix on high for 30 – 60 seconds.  Enjoy!

Natural Health properties of the Ingredients:

1. Cilantro Detoxes heavy metals from the blood and also helps to naturally combat PMS symptoms.

2. Vanilla contains high levels of antioxidants and benefits the nervous system working as a relaxant.

3.  Mango can help clear pores.

4. Bananas are a natural mood booster – they contain tryptophan which triggers a serotonin release in the brain.

5. Coconut water replenishes the body with electrolytes!

6. 1 tablespoon of Chia seeds contains 1.7 grams of protein, 4.2 grams of carbohydrates, 3.1 grams of fat (1.8 grams of that is Omega 3).

7. Coconut milk is known to assist the body in absorbing calcium and magnesium, making it a wonderful milk and yogurt alternative for anyone who wants to build and maintain strong, healthy bones.

8. Just a hand full of Strawberries will serve you up more Vitamin C than an orange, as well as trace amounts of B Vitamins and a high dose of Manganese.

Sources: Youngandraw.com and Livestrong.com

Special Shabbos Chanukah Chicken Soup Recipe

shabbos chanukah soup

Chicken Soup With Dreidels & Menorahs: Special Shabbos Chanukah Recipe

I know, I know, you’re probably wondering, ‘how do you get dreidel & menorah shapes into your chicken soup?’.  Once you learn the secret and how easy it is you’ll be wondering why you didn’t think of it all by yourself.  I have to confess, I didn’t think of this ingenious idea myself either.  I read it on the blog, DailyCheapskate, and asked her permission to share this creative idea with you all here.

Draidel Shaped Noodles

Directions:

Take a box of lasagna noodles and cook in boiling water as per the directions on the box.

Once the noodles have cooled off, cut out the shapes with the cookie cutter and set the shapes aside.  You will place them into the bowls of chicken soup before you serve it.  Your Shabbat Hanukkah guests will be pleasantly surprised.  I know my kids are going to go crazy with excitement when they see these in their Friday night chicken soup – which is by far their favorite part of the meal, aside from my challah & tomato dip.

Here’s a picture of what it looks like courtesy of DailyCheapskate.

Since I’m on the topic of Friday night chicken soup, I figured I should share my personal chicken soup recipe with you here.  I played around with different variations of classic chicken soup ingredients until I came up with this final version to get a natural clear golden color, full of flavor, without any soup mix additives.  Using the bones and necks also happens to be a few dollars cheaper then using a whole or cut-up chicken, and while I love to save money, that’s not why I use them.  I use chicken bones and turkey necks because I find the bones give the soup a special flavor different from a whole chicken.  When I can’t find turkey necks I use chicken necks and it only makes the soup richer in taste.   The turkey necks add some iron which is also why I like to use them.  I only use the loose, thick carrots instead of the regular packaged thin ones as well – this also adds to the sweetness in flavor and golden color.

This recipe makes a huge pot of chicken soup.  But you can freeze half of it and this way you only have to make the soup every 2 weeks!  This recipe easily serves 20.  I also make the soup on Thursday and place what I need for that Shabbos in the refrigerator overnight, reheating it an hour before Shabbos on Friday.  My mother taught me that chicken soup always tastes better when its refrigerated overnight.  Refrigerating it also allows you to scrape the extra fat off of the top before you re-heat it making the soup more heart-healthy.

Friday Night Chicken Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

1 package of chicken bones (1 to 1 1/2 lbs)

1 package of turkey or chicken necks (3-4 turkey necks)

5 – 6 thick loose carrots peeled and sliced into thick chunks

1 – 2 large onions

1 celery root,  peeled

3-4 pieces of celery

1 turnip, peeled

1 parsnip, peeled

1 sweet potato, peeled

1 – 2 garlic cloves (optional – I add this in the winter time to help ward off colds)

Directions:

Fill a 15 gallon/60 quart pot halfway with water.  Add 4 – 5 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil.

Add the chicken bones and turkey necks and let them boil for 1 hour.

Add the rest of the ingredients and let soup simmer, with the top of the pot slightly askew so steam can escape, for another 2 hours.

Let soup stand and cool off.  Add more salt & pepper to taste.

Remove all the bones and vegetables from the soup.  When the soup has cooled off, pour it through a strainer – the broth from this usually fits into a smaller 11 quart pot and 5 – 6 quart storage container ( or 2,  2  1/2 quart containers).  I place the pot in the fridge overnight to reheat on Friday and freeze the rest.

Add your dreidel & menorah shaped noodles when serving the soup.

Enjoy & let me know your families’ reaction when you serve up this fun and delicious chicken soup!

 

Water Challah Recipe

water challah

This week was a bit more hectic than usual since, as some of you might be aware, I’ve been helping out in the relief effort for Huricane Sandy victims.  This relief effort, along with the crushing devastation many of our beloved friends and Jewish communities have experienced is quite surreal, and something that needs to be shared  (which I hope to do in my next blog post).  For now, I wanted to share with you my Water Challah Recipe because it is so fast & fabulous to make.  It needs only a total of 45 minutes rise time and another 40 minutes in the oven.  Its a great recipe to have for when you’re short on time.  If like me, you realize you have to run back to the store to buy flour (I’m usually well stocked!) and the clock has been turned back and you want to take Challah for the extra Bracha it can bring to k’lal Yisrael… this Water Challah Recipe is your answer.  It is done all by hand and is really delicious.

(This recipe comes from someone in Passaic, New Jersey I’m not sure who.  If you know whose original recipe this is then please let us know in the comments section below).

Water Challah Recipe

Ingredients

1 bag of flour (sifted optional)

6 Tbsp dry yeast

3 Tbsp salt

3/4 cup sugar

2/3 cup oil (+ extra for rubbing)

6 cups warm water

 

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, empty 1 bag of flour.  Make a small hole in the middle of the bowl and add the dry yeast.  Add 2 cups of warm water to the middle and watch the yeast bubble a few seconds to make sure its alive.  Add the sugar into the middle and edges.  Sprinkle the salt around the outer edges of the flour.  Add the oil and remaining 4 cups of water.  Mix with your clean hands (yes, they will get messy) until it forms a nice soft dough.  If the dough is sticky it means that your challah will be delicious, just sprinkle a dusting of flour on top and/or add some oil to your hands and keep mixing to be able to work with it after it rises.   Once it is in a non-sticky dough form let it rise, covered for 15 minutes.  Now you are ready to take the Challah with your Blessing and shape it.  Once shaped and in baking pans or sheets, bake it in a preheated oven at 375 degrees farenheit for 40 minutes.  Let it cool and enjoy!

Wishing you a warm, dry and wonderful Shabbos full of light!

 

 

Shabbos Chicken Recipe

shabbos chicken

This recipe was created by my mother-in-law.   It is actually quite simple, with few ingredients and a lot of crispy, juicy deliciousness.  I make this chicken dish every Friday night so in my house, we call it, ‘Shabbos Chicken’.   I had a housekeeper who thought that this was the traditional chicken dish made in every Jewish household on Friday  nights, until she consulted with a friend of hers who helps her family makes schnitzel every Friday night.  This recipe is a much healthier alternative to schnitzel, to say the least.   Because I serve this dish on Friday nights when I have a good chance of actually getting chicken into my kids’ stomachs, I splurge on using all Organic ingredients.  I use organic onions, potatoes, carrots and tomatoes (the only other ingredients in this recipe). I buy the whole organic Empire Kosher chickens from Trader Joe’s because they have them at a very reasonable price and are consistent in their pricing, freshness and quality. But any whole chicken can be used for this recipe.  Using the whole chicken has many advantages, first, its very economical, second, it gives you much more meat and third, the flavors and juices are enhanced when the bones are intact.  So, here’s the Raff Family Shabbos Chicken Recipe.

Shabbos Chicken Recipe

Ingredients

1 whole 3-4 lb Kosher chicken

1 large onion

1 large carrot

1 large tomato

3-4  potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks

Pereg grilled chicken spice (or your own mixture of paprika, garlic & onion powder)

Gravy powder

Sea Salt & Pepper

Directions

Using your Food Processor or a hand grater, grate 1 onion and 1 large carrot.  Place the grated vegetables around the inside edges of a large roasting pan, this is the stainless steel pan I use.  The Food Processor that I use to grate the vegetables with (and use all day long, for baking, cooking, grating and all my dips) is this Braun Multiquick 3.

Next, again using your Food Processor or grater, grate 1 tomato and add 1 teaspoon of brown gravy powder to the tomato mixture (the gravy powder is optional, on Passover I don’t have the powder and it tastes just as good).  Set the tomato mixture aside for later.

Using a kitchen scissor like this one, clean the excess fat and skin off of the chicken.  I  like to use these kitchen shears to snip off the extra skin and fat – the skin that’s not covering meat that falls over and the extra fat all around.  This makes the chicken less fatty and healthier.  I like to cut off the ends (the tush & neck) because they are full of fat and no-one in my house eats them, but you can leave them on if you like them.  After cleaning the chicken, rinse it off all around in cool water, pat dry.

Sprinkle the chicken lightly with sea salt all around on both sides.  I use sea salt because it is not only healthier but I find it brings out a much nicer flavor in everything I make.  I buy my Sea Salt in bulk, on Amazon using my Amazon Prime account for convenience and price since most of the sea salt in Health Food Stores are over-priced.  This is the Kosher brand of Sea Salt I get from Amazon.  Sprinkle the chicken with a dash of black pepper as well.

Next, season the chicken generously with Pereg Mixed Spices for Grilled Chicken spice mix.  This is not a promotional post for Pereg, it happens to just be a great spice mixture for this chicken.  You can make it yourself since its a simple mixture of Paprika, Garlic, Onion and Salt.  Gives a great flavor and color to the chicken.  I cover the entire chicken on both sides with this spice mixture.  (i don’t see this spice on Amazon, I checked, but it can be found in most Kosher grocery stores).

Place clean and spiced chicken into the roasting pan, breast side up, with the grated onion/carrot mixture around it.  You will now bake the chicken at 350 for 2 hours alternating sides and covering it and uncovering it.  Its this alteration of covering, uncovering, turning, uncovering and covering that keeps it crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.  Here’s how I do it:

  1.  bake in the oven covered for 30 minutes.
  2. uncover the chicken and bake uncovered for another 30 minutes.
  3. after the first hour its half done.  Now, take the roasting pan out of the oven, remove the chicken and add the tomato mixture to the carrot/onions on the bottom of the pan.  Add the cut potatoes to the sides of the pan.  Turn the chicken over and place it back into the roasting pan.  If you started with breast side up, you will now place the breast side down (this keeps the white meat juicy).  Put roasting pan back in the oven uncovered for another 30 – 40 minutes.
  4. finally, cover it again and cook it covered for the remaining 30 minutes.   I usually make it about 3 hours before Shabbos starts and then keep it covered on warm (about 250 degrees) until I’m ready to serve it.  To serve, remove the chicken from the pan, slice off desired pieces (at this point its very tender so slices very easily) and serve with sauce and potatoes on top of the chicken.  It is so delicious.  Enjoy!

One final tip:  I often prepare the chicken in the morning when my kids are in school and leave it ready to go in the refrigerator until about 3 hours before Shabbos at which time I place it in the oven to cook.  I also set my timer so that I know when to take the top off, turn the chicken and put the top back on.

For more Shabbat Recipes, like Challah, visit here.

Here are some of the kitchen tools I use for this recipe

 

Carrot Zucchini Muffin Recipe

carrot-zucchini muffin

Here’s my recipe for Zucchini Carrot Muffins that are healthy and delicious.  I use white whole wheat flour instead of regular white flour and agave nectar instead of sugar making a healthy choice filled with vegetables and healthier sweets and carbs.  They go perfectly in the fall / Sukkot season.  Enjoy!  Wishing you a Chag Sameach – a good sweet Sukkos holiday.

Recipe

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups agave nectar

1/2 cup oats

3/4 cup oil

1 T baking powder

1 t salt

1 1/2 t cinnamon

1 T vanilla

4 eggs

1 zucchinni with peel

2 carrots

Directions

Grate carrots and zucchini.   Add remaining ingredients and mix.  Bake in greased muffin tins at 350 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes.  Muffins are ready when top springs back if touched.  Enjoy!

Hot Crock-Pot Apple Crisp

applecrisp

Hot Crock-Pot Apple Crisp

I served this on Friday night during a three day yontif and it was soooo amazing.  The yom tov happened to be the Sukkot holiday where we eat outside in our Sukkah.  It was cool outside so this warm, sweet and gooey apple crisp with vanilla parve ice cream was absolutely amazing!  All my guests (B”H we had a full sukkah) requested the recipe.  So I decided to share it here.   It was also a great way to use up all my extra apples from our apple picking trip!

Crock-Pot/Slow Cooker Apple Crisp

1. Coat a slow cooker/ crock pot bowl with nonstick cooking spray

2. Filling: peel and slice 6-10 apples (any-type) into 1/2 inch wedges (10 cups).  Add  3 Tablespoons of granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (more if you love cinnamon like I do).  Wisk the sugar, lemon and cinnamon together.  Stir in apples and toss to coat.

3. Topping: In a small bowl mix together 1/2 cup all purpose flour,  1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, pinch of salt, 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Work the oil into the flour mixture with fingers or using a pastry blender until course crumbs form.  (optional: Add 1/2 cup chopped pecans).

4. Spoon apple mixture into crock pot and sprinkle topping over it.  Cover and cook on LOW for 4 hours or on HIGH for 2 hours.  Serve hot with (parve/tofutti/soy/coconut ) vanilla ice cream.  Here are some coupons for the parve coconut ice cream.

This recipe serves 8 but doubles easily.

I adapted this recipe from the original version which I got from my free family circle slow-cooker recipe book.  To get this freebie cookbook yourself, go ‘like’ Family Circle on Facebook and click on the free cookbook tab in the left sidebar.

Here are some more of my favorite recipes.

 

Banana-Wheat Quick Bread

banana-bread

I make this recipe whenever I have bananas that are turning brown.   In my house we call it banana cake, even though the correct title is Banana-Wheat Quick Bread and it is so good that it only lasts about a few hours until its devoured.  I am so happy to see my family eating it because, unbeknown to them, it is made with 100% whole wheat flour, agave nectar instead of sugar and has the perfect amount of sweetness without tasting any of the whole-wheat.

I know that there are hundreds of banana bread/cake recipes out there but I’ve tried others and they are either too sweet, too sticky or too dry.  I find this recipe to be just perfect.  It makes a great quick breakfast for Shabbos or yontif morning before shul, on a weekday morning before school and a healthy snack to send with your kids to school.  I hope your family will enjoy it as much as mine does.

Banana-Wheat Quick Bread Recipe

Ingredients

1 & 3/4 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup agave nectar (or sugar)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 medium ripe bananas mashed

1/4 cup margarine softened or oil

2 Tbsp orange juice

1 egg

Optional: 1 cup oats & 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350

Grease bottom of a 9×5 loaf pan

Combine all ingredients

Beat with mixer for 3 minutes on medium speed

Pour batter into pan

bake at 350 for 60 minutes

cool on a wire rack

Enjoy!

 

Free Rosh Hashana Jewish E-Book from Levana Kirshenbaum

levana

In celebration of the upcoming Jewish Holidays of Rosh Hashana and Sukkot, Jewish E-Books has a free holiday gift:  a FREE comprehensive 28 page Rosh Hashana cookbook, featuring two complete menus of Levana’s hand-picked favorite dishes with stunning, full-color photographs.

Click here to download your free Kosher Cookbook just in time for the holidays …. and happy cooking!

Wishing all my readers a ketiva v’chatima tova (may you be written and sealed for good).

Shana Tova!

Meringue Cookie Recipe

meringue2

French Meringue cookies, aside from being just about the sweetest, best tasting cookie around, are also the most frugal and economical of desserts.  With only 2 egg whites and less than 1 cup of sugar you get over a dozen of these delightful cookies!  And, you need not waste the yolks from these two large eggs,  put them aside as use them as the egg wash for your homemade Challahs (homemade challahs also being quite frugal & much more delicious).  I use only the yolks for my egg wash it gives a gorgeous dark sheen to the top of the Challaot.

I know that Meringue cookies can be intimidating to make and I’ll admit that the first few times I tried to make theme they flopped.  But the secret to all good cooking is, of course, the right recipe.  This recipe is so simple, uses 4 ingrediants and takes about 10 minutes to make.  My Meringues come out perfect every time.

So here’s my recipe for Meringue Cookies:

Ingredients:

2 large egg whites

1/8 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp.of vinegar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

2/3 cup of sugar

Directions:

heat oven to 250 F

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

1. With electric mixer on med-high speed, beat egg whites in large bowl until foamy. Add salt and vinegar and continue beating until soft peaks form (about 3-4 minutes)

2. Add vanilla and sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, and continue beating until mixture is glossy and stiff, about 2 – 4 more minutes.    There should be peaks forming that are beginning to stiffen.  This is what the mixture should look like when its ready.

 

 

3. Using a tablespoon, gently spoon spoonfuls of mixuture onto baking sheets about 1 inch apart.

4.  Put baking sheets into the 275 degree oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Then turn the oven off and leave the meringues in overnight or for about 6 hours.  They will cook and cool off and be perfect in the morning.

Enjoy!

For some of my other favorite recipes, check out my recipe for Crock Pot Apple Crumble or my addictive garlicy tomato dip.