Coconut Flour Shortbread Cookies

For Purim, I made these Coconut Flour Shortbread Cookies with the leftover coconut flour from Passover.

These cookies are endlessly adaptable.

If you like citrus, they can be jazzed up with lemon, lime or orange zest.

If you want to make a fancy presentation, you could dip them in chocolate and add toasted coconut, nuts or sprinkles.

They can be made with almost “flour” — wheat, quinoa, banana, almond, or gluten free flour blend of your choice or starch such as tapioca or potato.

They are perfect for Passover or for anyone on a gluten free or nut free diet.

Coconut Flour Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup coconut flour

1 cup “flour” — wheat/quinoa/banana/almond/tapioca starch/potato starch, or gluten free blend of your choice

1 1/2 cups sugar.

Optional: If you it less sweet, you can use only 1 cup of sugar.

1 cup oil

4 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional: 1 teaspoon almond extract

Optional: 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Optional: lemon, lime or orange zest

Instructions:

Food processor: mix oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract.  Add the dry ingredients and process until it forms into a dough.

I usually try to mix the wet ingredients first and then add the dry ingredients to prevent over mixing.

Let the dough rest for a few minutes. Coconut flour is very absorbent.

Shape dough into balls with slightly wet hands to prevent sticking and create a smooth shape.

Place onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. I find that my cookies are less likely to burn with a double insulated cookie sheet.

Flatten dough with a fork using a crisscross pattern. To prevent dough from sticking to the fork, dip the fork into water. It really helps!

Bake in preheated 400*F oven for 8-12 minutes, and the bottoms are slightly browned.

Cool slightly while still on the cookie sheet and then let cool completely on wire racks.

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Just before baking in the over. I used a silpat and double insulated baking sheets.

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Final outcome.

Coconut flour is different than wheat flour. But, I am happy to say that most people really liked them. The proof is that I brought them to our Purim seuda (festive meal) and they were all eaten. I consider that to be a ringing endorsement.

Enjoy!

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Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last year for Passover, I bought all these unusual flours that were kosher for Passover for the first time. I bought banana flour, quinoa flour and coconut flour.

I made a few things with them, with mixed reviews.

The consensus seems to be that the end results were no better than the traditional alternative “flours” like potato starch, tapioca starch, ground nuts and matzah meal.

Tonight is the holiday of Purim.  What this also means is that Passover is around the corner.

I still have so much leftover flours from last year. I couldn’t let them go to waste.

This holiday provides a unique opportunity to be creative. I thought: “why not bake cookies with the gluten-free flours from Passover to give away for my Mishloach Manot (Food to Friends.)??

Voila! Chocolate Chips Cookies with banana flour.

For a wonderful and funny explanation of Purim, please go read what Dolly wrote over at koolkosherkitchen.  Raizel and I really enjoyed it. Check it out!

 

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

1 ½  cups banana flour
2 cups rolled oats

Passover adaption: omit and add nuts, if desired.
1 ½  cup brown sugar
½  cup white sugar
1 cup oil
2 large egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

9 oz. chocolate chips

 

Instructions

Food processor: mix oil, sugars, eggs, and vanilla. Add banana flour, oatmeal, baking soda, and salt until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips. (If you want, you can stir in the oatmeal with the chocolate chips, but I did not).

Drop or shape dough using a teaspoon onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake in 350*F oven for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Cool slightly while still on the cookie sheet and then let cool completely on wire racks.

I must have been tired by the time I made these. Unfortunately, I only have one picture of the final product:

Raizel thought that they were really good. My husband unfortunately thought that they tasted “passadik” (like Passover food.) I say, “that’s the way the cookie crumbles.”

Today, there are more and more people who are gluten free. I think that these cookies are a great way to accommodate people on such a special diet.

Enjoy!

Happy Purim 🎭

Cranberry Challah Kugelettes & True Giving

What would Walter Think? Cranberry Challah Kugelettes

 

I like to think that Walter would be flattered if he knew how much he inspired me by his off the cuff comment.

Interestingly, the other group members were also very amused by his comment. It seems as though it sparked a lot of discussion!

The group this past week was continuing to feel disappointed that there was no funding for a holiday party this year.

In order to address their disappointment, I initially suggested that we have a potluck party.  I received a lukewarm response.

So, then, we had a discussion on giving and receiving gifts. I asked them: “who do you give to?” And, “who gives to you?”

As the group members discussed the questions, they began to realize that true happiness comes from giving and sharing rather than getting or taking.

When we give to give, we feel love for others and loved by them. When we give to get, it is a recipe for resentment and disappointment.

Still, one group member asked: “But, what if you don’t have very much?”

I suggested that even if a group practices “musical giving” it creates more good will than if everyone just keeps for themselves whatever they have.

“Musical giving” is my term to describe when everyone keeps passing around even the same gift from one person to another. It is almost like the game “the wonder ball,” hence the name.

It might not make sense, but, the act of giving, even if it is not consumed and then subsequently passed onto someone else, creates a relationship and promotes spiritual growth and connection.

I am happy to say that by the end of the group, everyone agreed to have a potluck holiday party.

Hopefully, everyone will remember to bring what they committed to bring in.

 

 

Cranberry Challah Kugelettes

In the meantime, I am continuing to explore creative ways to use up leftover bread. This recipe is another adaption of my challah kugel.

At my mother’s suggestion, I decided to make them as cupcakes, so that they would be easier to handle and cook faster.

Ingredients:

16 oz. challah

Variations:  I have not tried it yet, but, try substituting crushed matzah or rice instead of bread.

1 ½ cups water

1 ½ cups milk (I used rice milk)

Optional: use orange juice for either or all of the liquid instead

1-1 ½ cups cranberries

6 eggs

1 cup sugar: I used brown sugar only this time

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons oil

Optional: orange zest

Optional: icing sugar sprinkled on top after it’s baked.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375* F.

Crumble or break up challah (or matzah or rice) into small pieces into bowl.

Combine water (or juice) and milk and pour over challah. Mix until challah is soft, but not too mushy. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Pour into cupcake pans lined with cupcake holders. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until done.

The texture is particularly creamy when it is baked in a deeper pan containing about 1 inch of water.

When I do not used a hot water bath, I bake it in a 350* F oven instead. It depends on how time challenged I am at that moment.

Serve warm or at room temperature and dust, if desired with icing (confectioners’) sugar. I did not, but I think it might be prettier with it.

This time, I put everything in the bowl and mixed the ingredients together.

Mix well.

Bake in muffin tins so they are easier to eat. No utensils required.

Fresh out of the oven.

The girls LOVED them!

Final product.

I am happy to say that it was a big hit!  Enjoy!

Now, I have to see if it meets Walter’s approval.

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Chocolate Challah Kugel

I’m back!

The picture of the adorable cat above, is the latest addition to our family.

At the end of this post, I will share more about him.

Stay tuned!

I have missed blogging, but, for some reason, I uncharacteristically found myself with nothing to say for the past year.

I hope that I have found my voice again, and this is a new beginning!

Part of my inspiration to renew this blog was an off the cuff comment by one of my patients.

During one of my groups at work this week, “Walter,” said, “Carol doesn’t look like someone who likes to cook.”

At first, I thought his comment was completely off base, and I felt slightly offended. To me, he was making an unsubstantiated assumption.

Upon reflection, it occurred to me: perhaps “Walter” was really trying to communicate something else?

Is it possible that “Walter” was really expressing his disappointment that this year there is no funding available to have a holiday party?

Maybe what he really wanted to say was: “does Carol care enough about us that she would make us a party and do all the cooking?”

I am still thinking about the incident, as you can tell.

The upside of his comment is that it reminded me how much I really do miss blogging.

And just in case his comment could really be taken at face value, I was motivated to actually sit down and write a new post on my sorely neglected blog.

My motives might be a little immature, but, I really do have so many recipes to share on juggling special diets, special needs and time challenges!

Chocolate Challah Kugel 

This recipe is really a recent adaption of my challah kugel. I am trying to come up with creative ways to use up leftover bread.

I am happy to say that it was a big hit!

Ingredients:

16 oz. challah

1 ½ cups water

1 ½ cups chocolate chips

1 ½ cups milk (I used rice milk)

1/2 cup cocoa

6 eggs

1 cup sugar: ½ cup brown sugar and ½ cup white

2 teaspoons vanilla

½ teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons oil

Optional: icing sugar sprinkled on top after it’s baked.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375* F.

Crumble or break up challah into small pieces into bowl.

Add chocolate chips.

Combine water, milk, cocoa, eggs, vanilla, salt and oil and whisk until smooth and well-blended.

The sugars can be added to the bread and chocolate chips, or to the liquids. This time, I did both. The white sugar I added to the bread, and the brown sugar was added to the liquids. I think it might be better to add the sugar to the liquids so it can dissolve more easily and be more evenly distributed. This recipe is very flexible!

Pour liquid over challah and chocolate chips.

Mix until challah is soft.

Pour into a parchment lined pan and bake for approximately 1 hour or until done.

The texture is particularly creamy when it is baked in a deeper pan containing about 1 inch of water.

When I do not used a hot water bath, I bake it in a 350* F oven instead. It depends on how time challenged I am at that moment.

Serve warm or at room temperature and dust, if desired with icing (confectioners’) sugar. I did not, but I think it might be prettier with it.

Variations:  I have not tried it yet, but, I wonder if this would be good with crushed matzah instead of bread?

Alternatively it might even be made with rice too. Depending on the desired texture, it might be better to lightly blend the rice mixture with an immersion blender before adding the chocolate chips. The goal is to have the mixture slightly smooth but not mushy.

Now that I see how adaptable this recipe can be, I am hoping to explore other variations too.

Here are the pictures:

Bread, chocolate chips and white sugar.

Whisking the sugar, cocoa, eggs, liquid and vanilla

mixing wet and dry ingredients.

The last few pieces. I forgot to take a picture when it was first done.

Enjoy!

As promised, here is the story of our new cat.

Last spring we acquired an outdoor cat, Ari.

I love cats, but, my husband, unfortunately is very allergic to them. So, when we met, I sadly had to give my 2 cats away.

Over the years, I would frequently remind Jay of the tremendous sacrifice I made to marry him. My husband would always joke, “What’s better, having a husband or 2 cats?” He would then add: “Don’t answer that!”

When we first married, I used to be able to find a local stray cat to befriend and share a “Positive Cat Experience.” Over the years, however, that changed. It seems as though there were no longer any stray cats around.

So, as an act of true love, Jay suggested that perhaps I could have a cat again, with the stipulation that the cat was not allowed to come in the house.

It was a tall order, but, with the help of Google, I discovered that there is a local program by the SPCA called “Back Yard Buddies.”

Cats adopted through this program are feral cats that have been spayed/neutered, given their shots, and microchipped. They are not supposed to be indoor cats, and the SPCA gives you all the equipment one needs to train the cat that you will be his/her new feeding source.

It seemed like a win-win for everyone!

My brother was very skeptical when he heard about it. Dov said, “It sounds like taking on a charity project.” I suppose on one level it is.  But, the cat we received is the friendliest feral cat one could ever hope for.

Naturally, life is never how one expects.

Although I am the one who takes care of Ari, ironically, my husband is his chosen person. Ari greets my husband, spontaneously hops up on his lap, and otherwise in general seeks him out.

It is truly very funny.

One of my friends suggested that I sue for alienation of affection, or get another cat who will be MY cat. So far, my husband has vetoed that option.

I am truly enjoying this cat. It is so nice to have a Positive Cat Experience on a daily basis. I just had to share!

Challah Kugel

Challah Kugel 


ואל תאמר לכשאפנה אשנה, שמא לא תפנה

It is written in Perkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers): Do not say, “When I have leisure time, I will study,” for you may never have leisure. (2:4)

According to the commentaries, this means that “one must consciously set aside time for study and spiritual growth.”

Now, I would not like to imply that blogging is on the same spiritual level as learning Torah.

But, with respect to blogging, I have extrapolated the above quote to mean: If I wait for things to calm down to blog, I will never blog.

As I shared in May, I am a big believer in the importance of rigorous self-care. As the primary caregiver for my family, I find blogging to be a fun and wonderfully creative outlet. Since blogging helps me cope, it’s time to post!

Challah kugel is a great way to use up leftover challah. Kugel in general is one of Yaffa’s favorite dishes, and this kugel in particular is especially yummy.

Challah Kugel

Ingredients:

16 oz challah

1 ½ cups water

1 ½  cups milk (I used rice milk)

Optional: use apple or orange juice for either or all of the liquid instead

4 eggs

1/2 – 1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons oil

Optional: ½ to 1 cup raisins, crushed pineapple or sliced apples

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375* F.

Crumble or break up challah into small pieces into bowl. Combine water (or juice) and milk and pour over challah. Mix until challah is soft, but not too mushy. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Pour into pan and bake for approximately 1 hour or until done.

The texture is particularly creamy when it is baked in a deeper pan containing about 1 inch of water.

When I do not used a hot water bath, I bake it in a 350* F oven instead. It depends on how time challenged I am at that moment.

Variations: This recipe is really my basic formula for any sweet kugel. During Passover, I used crushed matzah instead of bread. To make it gluten free, I use rice, and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.

All the ingredients mixed in the pot.

 

In the pan, ready to bake.

Final outcome.

 

I consider this to be one of my signature kugel recipes. It is always a hit!

Enjoy!

 

Shlishkas: First Time Experiment

Shlishkas is a very traditional Eastern European Ashkenazi dish.  I have never made it before and in fact, I only just discovered what it was recently. It took me 2 weeks just to learn how to pronounce the name.  For the record, it is pronounced sh’lish-kas.

So, I asked my mother if she knew what shlishkas is, and of course she does. According to my mother, this dish is not traditional for Jews who are from Lithuania, which is where my family is from. So, that explains why I had never heard of it before.

I consider this to be Jewish gnocchi, served with toasted breadcrumbs and sautéed onions.  My friend Devorah is the one who told me about this initially. She uses dried gnocchi to make this dish. That is a definite time saver, but, I thought I would try and make it from scratch.

This recipe is from The Jewish Spice and Spirit Cookbook. This cookbook was given to me when I got married. I consider it to be one of the best cookbooks available. 

I am sure that it is possible to make this gluten-free, but for the first time, I decided to follow the recipe as it was written.

 

Ingredients:

4 large potatoes, cooked and then peeled

3 cups of flour

1 egg

1 tablespoon oil

1 tablespoon salt

2 onions, chopped

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon oil

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Cook potatoes. I made them in the pressure cooker, 10 minutes to pressure.

Peel the potatoes, add the flour, egg, oil, and salt and then mash together.

I read somewhere that it is best to grate the cooked potatoes, and one should definitely NOT use a food processor, or else it will turn to mush. I used a regular food masher, and my shlishkas still came out OK.

Roll dough out onto long ropes onto a floured board. Cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Drop into boiling water for 10 minutes until they float to the top. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Sauté the onions in oil. When they become translucent, add the breadcrumbs and continue to sauté until the breadcrumbs are toasted and the onions are translucent.  Add the shlishkas and cook until well blended.

Raizel and my husband liked them very much. I will have to see what Yaffa thinks tomorrow.

NB: To make gluten free and kosher for Passover, I think that it is possible to use potato or tapioca starch and/or ground almonds or matza meal. For the breadcrumbs, I think that matza meal and or ground almonds or panko flakes/crumbs could also be used. I recommend using equal proportions of each. However, I would use only 1 ½ cups to start and then gradually add more, depending on the texture and the potatoes used. I suspect that there is a definite art to making this, and that there are no hard or fast rules.

I also think that for Passover, this might be just as good with sautéed onions, and pesto or even olive dip.

I also read that the shlishkas can be frozen, uncooked and then boiled later.

First I have to see how the family likes them. I also think that with practice, they get easier, but so far, the rolling out of the dough and cutting them makes this a little time consuming.

Here are the cooked and peeled potatoes:

 

My husband was kind enough to take of picture of me kneading the potato dough:

  

Dough, once it was made:

 

Here is the final product:

  
Yaffa had some today, and she liked them too. 

I showed this post to my sister, Raizel (they are both named after the same person) and she said that they are not shaped correctly. Since she is a chef, I am inclined to take her word for it. Apparently, they are supposed to have a more twisted rope-like shape. 

But, it was still a successful attempt. Two days after I made them, they were all gone. So, by my calculations, they were a hit!

This is not a recipe for the time challenged, but, it is very good and everyone liked them.