Category Archives: Recipes

Azuki Bean Brownies, No Flour, No Eggs, No Nuts, No Kidding

Yes. Azuki beans in a brownie.

No. They don’t taste like beans. They taste like dense, chocolatey, delicious brownies.

Brownies!

They don’t have flour in them. They don’t have eggs and they don’t have to have milk either.

My kids are obsessed with them, especially the babies. I have already had twelve people taste them and not one person could guess the secret ingredient.

SONY DSC

I got the idea from Chocolate Covered Katie. She has the most awesome recipes if you are trying to eat healthier desserts.

I used her Black Bean Brownie recipe with a few changes. I used Azuki beans because my nutritionist/naturopath ran some tests on me that revealed that I am slightly lacking in iron.
His first suggestion was to get some Azuki Beans. And of course, my first suggestion was that I make myself BROWNIES.

I used date syrup as the only sweetener in these and I used Kinder chocolate fingers (and just a few) instead of chocolate chips. I also made the same brownies with black beans but I found that the Azuki beans added a slightly better taste, maybe a tad bit sweeter.

This batter is totally fine for kids. No raw eggs or loads of sugar. My one and a half-year old tried it out for you. And yes, he wears his twin sister’s pajamas and his big brother’s shoes backwards. He is obsessed with everyone’s shoes but his own. He won’t keep his own shoes on for more than an hour.

Enjoy the brownies. SONY DSC

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Mini Peanutty Chocolate Cheesecakes Recipe

This is a guest post from my friend, Deanna Morauski who will be featured on the Live Well Network this month. She cracks me up time and time again and makes me want to move into her B&B, the Old Hen. You can see Deanna on Joey Fatone’s new show “My Family Recipe Rocks” on the Live Well Network this month on October 27th.

Mini Peanutty Chocolate Cheesecakes Recipe

One of banking coworkers from the nineties was a saucy belly dancer with a motherly love for the twenty-year-old me. She went on to write a few romance novels right after we parted ways, but I remember her for something far more delicious – her peanutty chocolate cheesecakes. She is a lovely, colorful lady I will never forget and her racy little cheesecakes shall remain close to my heart as well.

CRUST INGREDIENTS:

1 package graham crackers (9 crackers)
4 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
CHEESECAKE INGREDIENTS:
11 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
Preheat oven to 325F.

Crush graham crackers in food processor then slowly add melted butter and sugar. Line 48 mini muffin tins with mini muffin liners. Press 1 teaspoon of graham cracker into the bottom of each.

Place softened cream cheese into mixing bowl and use whip attachment to whip well. Add sugar and vanilla.

Melt chocolate chips over a double boiler then stir into melted chocolate.

Stir peanut butter into remaining cream cheese.

Place one teaspoon of chocolate mixture and one teaspoon of peanut butter mixture into muffin liners.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Leave cheesecakes in pan until cool, the place them in fridge to chill.

Serve garnished with whipped cream and sprinkles just to satisfy your naughty side.

About Deanna Morauski

You can see Deanna on Joey Fatone’s new show “My Family Recipe Rocks” on the Live Well Network this month on October 27th. She will be making four scrumptious recipes throughout an entire episode filmed at her B&B, The Old Hen. The episode was deemed “One of the best episodes of the season” by the show’s producers. Follow along on with Deanna on Facebook or on Twitter for updates .

Deanna’s love for baking and cooking began as she sat upon a baker’s stool as a little girl. Her love for people grew in the midst of church potlucks. She expresses her loves today creatively through speaking, writing for her foodie blog, television appearances as well as hosting guests, including celebrities, at her inn, The Old Hen Bed & Breakfast in Snoqualmie Valley, Washington. She has never read a romance novel but she has indulged in many delightful sprinkles.

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How to Make Hummus and More Grilling Tips

It is not every day that I get this excited about sharing a recipe. There is so much that I want to share but most of it gets put aside in my mind while I change another exploding diaper or save a restless child from trying to put a sharp shiny object in its mouth.

Life is just like that right now. And then there are barbecues. The kind of barbecues that remind you that dinner can be easy and quick and you don’t have to plan too much.

I am well aware that barbecue for you is not barbecue for me. When I say barbecue, you might think of ribs or steak or chicken wings. When I think of barbecue, it all ends and begins in the same place, around a plate of hummus.

Yes, hummus! I can not eat food on the grill without hummus somewhere on the table.

It has to be on a round plate and have layers of flavors and colors. I can’t do it any other way. Hummus is like the round table of legumes. You need to use your bread to wipe the plate. You need to sit around the plate with a friend or your spouse and keep talking and eating until it is gone. And keep swiping your bread in a circular motion. I can’t have it any other way.
Every meat tastes better with hummus. Bread tastes better with hummus. Heck even lettuce tastes better with hummus. I could eat a whole head of lettuce wrapped in hummus.

The recipe is on the bottom but first let me tell you some more about what I like to grill.

Grilling for me has to be easy and fast. Applegate Farms hotdogs are a quick and tasty way to get food on the table. They are not the hotdogs that you get that are full of the icky bits of meat that nobody wants. Applegate farms meats don’t have antibiotics, their livestock eat a complete vegetarian diet, they are grass-fed and made with natural and organic ingredients. They are popping up all over Seattle and Portland lately and I have come to love this easy alternative for dinner.

This post is part of the Applegate blogging program (full disclosure below) but I have absolutely no problem telling you that I am very picky about my hotdogs, especially since I know my little boy is going to eat them. The products are made from whole muscle meat and no mystery ingredients. I also love that the company says that if you are not familiar with an ingredient, you can email them and they will tell you all about it. Plain and simple, I don’t do well eating fake stuff so I feel good knowing what goes into the hotdogs I serve my kids.

A weeknight barbecue dinner in my house includes hotdogs, hummus, corn on the cob and at least one salad.

There is always a large salad. I will put every vegetable I find in it. And my secret ingredient is pickles. They add just the right amount of crunch and I don’t need to add salt to the salad.

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And now for the hummus. It is not a recipe but more of a ritual. Here is how you can do it at home.

Hummus

Ingredients:

2 Cans of chickpeas (or use dried chickpeas soaked over night and cooked).
1-2 cloves of garlic (optional)
Juice of half a lemon- one lemon (depends on preference)
salt
2-4 tablespoons of tahini
olive oil
*Za’atar Spice
Cumin
Paprika
Salt of choice
parsley

*Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend made up of dried herbs, sesame, sumac and other spices. You can find it at any specialty spice shop such as World Spice Merchants, Market Spice or any Middle Eastern Specialty store.

Start by draining the chickpeas (you can save some liquids to thin out the hummus later) and then putting them in the food processor. Add the tahini, I use between 2-4 tablespoons (start with 2) and process until you get a paste. Now taste. Add more tahini if you like it that way. Add the lemon juice. Keep tasting. Add cumin to taste, start with one teaspoon and then add another if you like. Add Salt. You can always add a few drops of the leftover liquids if it is too thick.

Now take a small round plate. Use the back of a spoon or a spatula to swirl it around the plate in large circular swirls, making the rounds around the plate. Cover the whole plate.

Drizzle oil between the lines of the circles. This is not the time to be stingy. Be generous.
Now get some of the za’atar spice if you have some. Sprinkle away generously again. Add paprika and sprinkle away.

Now top it with parsley.

Sometimes I also like to fry mushrooms and onions and put those on top.

That’s it! Use your bread to dip into the hummus in kind of a wiping motion (kind of like wiping the counters down). If you have pita, even better. We like to use tortillas that have been heated in the oven until crispy. And lettuce, particularly iceberg lettuce is great for dipping.
This is easy for the kids too. My son loves it with crackers or baby carrots. M Even my babies love it. Hummus on a spoon without all the spices in it is a perfect snack for teaching babies how to hold a spoon. They just hold it and lick it.

If you don’t feel like going “the whole nine yards”, you can buy hummus but find the time to layer the rest of the stuff on top of it. It will make a world of difference.

Who needs spoonfuls of peanut butter when you can snack on spoonfuls of hummus?

Do you want to know more about Applegate Farms, follow them on Facebook.

Disclosure:
I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Applegate blogging program, to earn My SocialMoms Rewards Points. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. To read more posts on this topic, click here.

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The New Food Processor Bible and Rosh Hashana

Rosh Hashana is one of my favorite Jewish holidays. Literally, translated into the “head of the new year”, it is the Jewish new year. Now if you know me, then you know that my posts are far from kosher I eat everything and anything around but when it comes to tradition it is a different story, I love tradition and culture and love the holidays for this reason. What I really love is an excuse to get family or friends together and a reason to tear up Challah bread with my hands (yes, no knife required) and eat as much as you want. Usually, a trip to Macrina is all this girl needs to make this challah fantasy complete.

In our family, there is one lady we go to for Jewish recipes and she is Norene Gilletz, the fairy godmother of Jewish cooking, she has them all, in the simple most convenient way. Her books have been passed on from my grandma, to my mom and to all of her friends. Her most recent cookbook is the “The New Food Processor Bible”.
As the busy mom that I am, with an almost 3 year old and twins on the way, on weekdays, her recipes have become my gateway to a home-cooked meal. I am obsessed with my food processor, especially on days when I am in a flurry to get everything done, this one magic machine can chop, grate and mince giving me time for other things.

Her revised and updated version of the Food Processor Bible is an enormous collection of recipes, that you can make every day; basic ingredients and easy dinner options that will feed hungry monsters of all kinds. This book is focused on everything from Food Processor-related tips and how to use it to appetizers, desserts , latkes, kugel and other Jewish favorites. Not necessarily a Jewish cookbook but you can’t take the Jewish mom out of any of her books. This book is a must-have for busy cooks and you can get it here on Amazon.

Our family’s favorite recipe has become the tuna patties. My son calls them tuna pancakes and will ask for them every time. We top them with sour cream or truffle honey. Recipe is below.

And before you start making these. I must post her recipe for sweet and sour meatballs because I post it yearly and these are favorites of kids all over the world. And they are fast, freeze well and can be made a couple days in advance. For more about Norene Gilletz, here is a link to her site.

If you are on a hunt for Jewish recipes, you will also want to check out some other favorites of mine. There is Chef Paula Shoyer for Jewish Baking and for Jewish cooking with a twist of Indian cooking, check out Food Wanderings.

Tuna Patties (Recipe Permission/ Whitecap Books)

1 medium onion, cut in chunks
1 carrot, cut in chunks
3 cans (6 oz/170 g each) tuna, drained
4 eggs (or 2 eggs plus 4 egg whites)
½ cup dried bread crumbs or matzo meal
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp oil for frying

Steel blade: Process onion and carrot until minced, about 8 seconds. Add tuna, eggs, bread crumbs or matzo meal, salt and pepper. Process until mixed, about 10 seconds. Shape into patties or 1-inch balls.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Brown on medium heat on both sides, until golden. Drain well on paper towels.

117 calories per patty, 4.6 g carbohydrates, 0.4 g fiber, 13 g protein, 4.7 g fat (0.9 g saturated fat), 83 mg cholesterol, 174 mg sodium, 150 mg potassium, 1 mg iron, 24 mg calcium, 107 mg phosphorus

Yield: 6 servings (12 patties). Keeps 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. Freezes well.

Variation:
Mixture can also be shaped into a loaf and baked at 350°F for 45 to 50 minutes or fill muffin tins two-thirds full and bake for 25 minutes, until golden. Makes 10 to 12. May be sliced and used for sandwiches.

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Filed under Appetizers, Cookbooks and Books, Nut Allergy Friendly, Quick Dinners, Recipes

Passover Nut-Free Chocolate Covered Matzo with Dried Apricots and Alderwood Smoked Salt

Passover is one of those holidays that is all about nuts. Since there are so many things that you can’t have, it seems like nuts are the substitute for it all. And of course, until you have someone with a nut allergy in the family, you really never notice how they pop up everywhere. Our 2 year old has a recently diagnosed tree nut allergy, (I won’t even go into how shocking it is for me to find out about this after 2 years of eating everything and anything.) Basically every cookie or Passover chocolate on the shelves is processed in a place with nuts, and it is an Easter hunt to find a chocolate that isn’t, even just a plain, dark chocolate bar.

Today, we made these little hostess gifts for our friends that we are celebrating Passover with. One thing about the way I plan recipes is that I always look for recipes that I can make with all the things that I have at home. This was a great way to spend time with my little boy and every time I turned my back, there was another chocolate mustache on his face.
You can put these next to your guests plates at your seder as a hostess gift or just offer a dessert to snack on after dinner.

The recipe was inspired by a book that I was looking at this morning called “ Gifts Cooks Love: Recipes for Giving” By Dianne Morgan when it ocurred to me that Passover is a great time to make homemade gifts. The book is beautiful and with creative recipes that you can make and give as gifts. There are fabulous ideas in it.
In the book , she used smoked salt in a chocolate bark recipe which I thought sounded like a great touch so I used this salt in my recipe.

Passover Nut-Free Chocolate Covered Matzo with Dried Apricots and Alderwood Smoked Salt

One Bag of Chocolate Chips (Milk or Dark)
Dried Apricots
A box of Matzo
Alderwood Smoked Salt ( This adds a touch of smoke without the heat. It can be found at spice shops such as World Spice Merchants or Market Spice)

1. Chop up the apricots.
2. Melt the chocolate in batches in the microwave at 30 second intervals. Mix every time, making sure that it doesn’t burn.
3. Brush or use a spatula to spread the melted chocolate on the Matzo.
4. Sprinkle the chopped Apricots on top and then the Smoked Salt.
5. Freeze until hard, break into pieces and wrap in cellophane and some string. You can definitely use pretty string but all I had was kitchen twine and it worked fine.

You can use any dried fruit or even chopped candy instead.

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Baked Scallions Recipe

One of my guilty pleasures is going to The Pike Place Market to my secret corner.  No matter how crazy my day is, if I am downtown, I like to stop at Corner Produce. In the corner of the corner, there  are dollar bags (I can’t believe I am sharing this), little bags of imperfect produce all priced at a dollar. If you get there in the morning, you get some really good stuff. A few times I got 4 peppers for a dollar.

I decide what I am making for dinner only after I fill my purse with some one dollar specials.  Friday morning, I saw two very generous bags of scallions in the dollar section and decided to make one of my favorite vegetable recipes, baked scallions.

The taste of baked scallions is very different from raw scallions. The taste is soft and almost sweet.

Baked Scallions with Tahini

Ingredients:

Scallions

Olive oil

Your favorite salt (I use Secret Stash Salts Nicoise Salt)

Fresh Thyme

Pepper

Tahini

1. Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Put the scallions on a baking sheet.

3. Drizzle the olive oil on top.

4. Scatter the fresh thyme on top.

5. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Bake for about 20 minutes or until soft. Drizzle with Tahini.

Notes: I really like using flavored salts and my friend Janna is the mastermind behind Secret Stash Salts along with her partner Joseph.  These salts give it that extra flavor that makes the taste  pop. You can use any salt you want to use.

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Gourmet Game Night and a Giveaway

Some days it’s all about the finger food.  Cynthia Nims’ new book, Gourmet Game Night is all about bite-sized, mess free eating for board-game parties and other social situations, where you need easy to please food with lots of flavor and not too many utensils.  She has tips on shortcuts, menu planning and menus suited for different crowds such as game night for two, game night for a crowd and game night for up to 8.  When I received a copy to review of Cynthia’s new book, I breathed a sigh of relief. Why?

Since my venture into motherhood, my cooking time is limited to when baby E naps, I carefully put him down to sleep and scurry  into the kitchen. I hesitate to try new cookbooks for the fear that my 1 hour of cooking will result in a flap and I will have to let baby E tear up the kitchen so I can make something else.

With Cynthia’s book, I had no doubt in my mind that whatever I made would be a success. The reason is simple. Cynthia is the mastermind behind some of the most amazing cookbooks in town. She has authored or co-authored twelve cookbooks including Memorable Recipes, Rover’s and the Northwest Homegrown Cookbook Series.

I decided to try some recipes for a Sunday night. I would make a few things and when the babe goes to bed, husband and I will sneak into the living room, for some snacks and some cuddling.   Essentially, I almost always make recipes that require only foods that I have on hand.  I made the oven-baked potato chips with onion dip. Not the powdered onion dip that our moms used to make, this dip had so much flavor that my husband asked if there were mushrooms in it. Nope, onions and garlic though. I washed some iceberg lettuce so I could keep dipping into the onion without eating too many potatoes. (Note: I used low -fat mayo and low- fat sour cream and it was perfect.)

I also made the polenta squares with spicy sausage.  The polenta squares are topped with baby spinach, spicy sausage and a ricotta cheese. The filling squeezes into a little indentation in the square which makes for a neat and classy  appetizer.

The flavors popped and husband and I had a great time, racing for the last bite. I strongly recommend this book for anyone looking for appetizers for a party or just some interesting bites for a game night. I wish I could say that we played a board game with the snacks but the truth is we fell right asleep on the couch.

To order the book, click here

For Cynthia’s website, click here

Wait! Before I give you the recipe, how about a giveaway?

I am giving away a copy of Gourmet Game Night.  The winner will be chosen at random on Monday the 15th. Leave a comment with your favorite board game below and your name will be entered into the drawing.


Polenta Squares with Spicy Sausage and Spinach

This filling is on the hot side, so start with just 1/4 teaspoon of the hot red pepper flakes if you prefer less heat. Just be sure that your filling is cohesive enough to hold its shape in the shallow indentation of the polenta.

Polenta

3 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup coarse polenta

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 teaspoon minced fresh oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried

Filling

1/4 pound bulk pork sausage meat (unseasoned or just lightly seasoned)

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

3 cups packed fresh spinach leaves (about 4 ounces), coarsely chopped

3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

Salt

To make the polenta, bring the water and salt to a boil in a saucepan. Gradually whisk in the polenta and when all has been added, reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue cooking until the polenta is thickened and tender to the bite, about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally at the beginning, more regularly toward the end. Take the pan from the heat and whisk in the Parmesan cheese and oregano. Transfer the polenta to a lightly oiled 9-inch square pan and smooth the top. Let sit for about 15 minutes.

When the polenta is partially set but still warm, use the tip of a knife to score the polenta into 12 portions: 3 strips in one direction, 4 strips in the other. Find a spice or condiment jar on your shelves, or a shot glass, that has about a 1 1/4-inch base. Clean and lightly oil the bottom of the jar and use it to press an indentation about 1/2 inch deep in the center of each polenta portion. Cover and refrigerate the polenta until fully chilled.

To make the filling, cook the sausage in a skillet over medium heat until no longer pink in the center, 5 to 7 minutes, breaking up the sausage into small pieces as it cooks. Drain off any excess fat, then add the fennel seeds and red pepper flakes, cooking until the spices are aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 1 minute. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Drain away any liquid that may have accumulated, then stir in the ricotta. Season to taste with salt.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly oiled foil.

Cut the polenta where it was scored and transfer the pieces to the baking sheet. Spoon the sausage-spinach filling into the indentation on each piece of polenta, mounding it slightly. Bake until heated through, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve; set on a warming tray to keep warm, if you wish.

Makes 12 squares

(up) Double all the ingredients, forming the polenta squares in 2 pans.

(down) Best not to halve.

(advance preparation) Make the polenta squares and filling up to 1 day ahead. Store the polenta, well-wrapped, and the filling, covered, in the refrigerator. Fill and arrange on a baking sheet up to 2 hours ahead and refrigerate; bake shortly before serving, adding about 5 minutes to the baking time if direct from the refrigerator.

*In the recipes in this book, there are up and down arrows which give you an idea of how the recipe can be adapted for different gatherings. Up meaning for more servings and down meaning for less servings.

“Reprinted with permission from Gourmet Game Night: Bite-Sized, Mess-Free Eating for Board-Game Parties, Bridge Clubs, Poker Nights, Book Groups, and More by Cynthia Nims, copyright © 2009. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.”

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