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!

Onion Kugelettes

Onion Kugelettes

I am continuing to explore creative ways to use up leftover bread. This recipe is another adaption of my challah kugel. Somehow, once I start something, I keep pursuing it until I master the concept.

The beauty of this recipe is in its simplicity: it has minimal ingredients, and also very little sugar. Somehow, when it’s not too sweet, it feels healthier.

I really like my mother’s suggestion to bake them as cupcakes. Cupcakes cook more quickly, require less fuss when eating and improve portion control. Plus, with cupcake liners, it’s easier to clean up the pan afterwards as well. It’s a win-win for everyone.

This recipe is also very accomodating. Since I am time challenged, I find it helpful to prepare the kugel in the morning and then bake it once I get home from work in the evening.

Ingredients:

16 oz. challah

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

3 cups water

3 onions (or more) diced, about 2 cups

3 eggs

4 tablespoons oil

½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon garlic powder, or to taste

½ – 1 teaspoon onion powder, or to taste

½ teaspoon pepper, or to taste

Optional: 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon sugar, to taste

Optional: 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds

Please note: The amount of spices depends on the bread. Since challah is relatively sweet, less sugar is required.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350* F.

Saute onions until caramelized. Crumble or break up challah (or matzah or rice) into small pieces into bowl.

Combine water 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.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sauteing the onions.

Adding the cubed bread.

This time I added poppy seeds.

mixing the bread, onions and water.

Ready to be put in the oven.

Fresh and hot right out of the oven!

 

Even though it has onions, and they are not very sweet, Yaffa and Raizel have been known to  eat them for breakfast too! Simple and good!

Enjoy!

Apple or Fruit Crisp

This apple crisp was made in honor of the patients in one of my groups, in particular Walter.

For weeks we processed in the group their disappointment over not having a holiday party funded by the hospital for them.

Something that seems so trivial, kicked up all their stuff about not feeling worthy, validated and cared about.

We spent weeks talking about “what makes you feel cared about?” Who do you give gifts to, and who gives gifts to you?”

Finally, after much effort and discussion, the patients agreed to hold a pot-luck party.

I tried to help behind the scenes by calling all the patients and reminding them about the party and keeping track of who was bringing what.

I must say that the patients completely redeemed themselves. I am so proud of them!

Everyone brought something and a few people who haven’t been to the group in such a long time actually heard from word of mouth from others in the group and showed up too.

I often find my patients very inspiring. I marvel at their strength of character despite their adversities and their comfort expressing simple acts of faith, gratitude and prayer.

Before eating, all the patients took off their hats while another patient, Davis, led the group with a prayer. The blessing that Davis shared was so beautiful, I wish I could have recorded it! In all my years, I have never witnessed such respect and cohesiveness.

During the party, patients enjoyed a casual conversation, which focused around:

  1. What are you grateful for?
  2. What are your best wishes for the group?
  3. What are your goals for the New Year?

 

Patients enjoyed the party and they were very grateful that everyone was so generous with each other and for the opportunity to give and receive from each other. It was truly a heartwarming!

APPLE or FRUIT CRISP

Ingredients

Filling

5-6 cups fruit, cubed (I used 3 cups apples and 2 cups cranberries)

1/2 cup sugar

Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional: 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Optional: 1- 11/2 tablespoons cornstarch or 2 teaspoons of tapioca

Optional: 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Optional: 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or allspice

Topping

1 1/2 cups oatmeal

Optional: substitute 1/2 cup flour instead of oatmeal

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup oil

Optional: 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Optional: 1/8 teaspoon salt

Optional: 2 tablespoons sliced or slivered almonds

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350*.

Combine fruit and filling ingredients in a greased or parchment paper lined baking dish

Combine the ingredients for the topping and mix until blended.

Sprinkle over fruit

Bake until fruit is soft and topping is slightly browned.

If topping becomes over cooked, cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Cool before serving.

Placed fruit in pan.

Ingredients for the filling.

Mix until well blended.

Ready to go in the oven.

Voila! Fresh out of the oven!

 

Here is a picture from the party:

I am happy to say that the fruit crisp was almost completely eaten! Even Walter said that he liked it.

Enjoy!

 

 

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!

Simple and Good Braised Chicken

Simple and Good Braised Chicken

This is such a simple chicken recipe, that it risked being called “Chicken With No Name.” It is endlessly adaptable, depending on available ingredients, personal preferences, time and circumstances. I have made it several times over the past few weeks, and it is always a hit.

Ingredients:

1 chicken cut in parts, skinned

Optional: leave skin on and sear the chicken pieces until browned for added flavor

2 -3 carrots, sliced

2 onions, sliced

2 celery stalks with leaves, cut in 1″ pieces

Optional: 1-2 parsnips, or other vegetables. Don’t add too many vegetables, or else the chicken will be overwhelmed. The more simple, the better the outcome.

Salt, to taste. Add the salt sparingly after it is cooked. Kosher chicken tends to be salty, and too much salt ruins the flavor.

1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Optional: paprika adds a nice flavor and color

2 bay leaves (I love bay leaves, so I like to add more)

1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed, near the end

1/2 cup water Optional: use chicken broth, or wine

Optional: 1 can crushed tomatoes or tomato paste for a thicker broth

Optional: 3-4 potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters

Optional: Thicken broth with 1-2 tablespoons of flour or starch. I usually dissolve the starch in a small amount of broth, and then add it to the dish and simmer until thickened.

Optional: If you REALLY want to be fancy, brown the starch or flour in fat, and then gradually add the liquid and stir or whisk until desired thickness. This takes a bit of time and skill, so I don’t recommend it if you are time challenged. It is something I do only for special occasions and for the right audience. My family does not like thicken sauce, and I find that it makes the leftovers “gloppy.”

Instructions 

Place carrots, onions, and celery in the bottom of the pot. If you have the time, you could saute the vegetables until browned, however, I did not. Add the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with pepper, garlic powder, and if using, paprika or other desired spices. Then add the liquid, and, the (optional) tomato puree or paste.

I place the chicken on top of the vegetables so that the stock almost steams or roasts the chicken.

The secret is to cook the chicken with only a minimal amount of liquid or stock. And, only add a minimal amount of salt after it is cooked. Too much salt, or liquid, and the taste is altered. I also only add crushed fresh garlic at the end. In general, less is more with this chicken recipe. The beauty is in its simplicity.

Stove top: bring to boil and let simmer until done. Add crushed garlic, salt and adjust seasonings to taste.

Crockpot. Cook on low until done. Add crushed garlic, salt and adjust seasonings to taste.

In pressure cooker: 7 minutes to pressure and then use the quick release method by running cold water over the lid when done. Add crushed garlic, salt and adjust seasonings to taste.

This week, I made it in the crockpot overnight. I adjusted the seasonings when I got up this morning before going to work. I forgot to take a picture of it in the crockpot. So, I only have pictures when I made it on the stove top.

Here are the pictures:

Layered in the pot before cooking. I see I added parsnips too.


The first time around, my husband ate straight from the pot!


Another live action shot of Jay eating from the pot.


Everyone was soooooo happy! Raizel said, “I am obsessed with this chicken. It is scary good!”  My husband said, “This chicken is killer!” It is one of the few times that there were actually no leftovers.

It is fast, easy, all natural and simple — cooking for the time challenged at its best.

Enjoy!

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!