Thanksgiving Lunch on the Fly: Maple Syrup & Mustard Turkey Legs With Sweet Potatoes & Green Beans

Thanksgiving Lunch on the Fly: Maple Syrup and Mustard Turkey Legs with Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans

I am still cooking and still writing, but, for various reasons, unfortunately, not for this wonderful blog. I have missed the comradery of the blogging community!

It can be sometimes be challenging to balance working, my children’s special needs and the dietary guidelines of the Jewish faith. In an age of instant gratification, teaching my children to say “No” to delicious non-kosher food is not simple.

I want my daughters to enjoy our faith and feel committed to following our culture, even though they are unable to attend a yeshiva and they are in an environment with very few other Jews.

They are teenagers, and at the age where they want to feel that they belong to a group of friends or peers. It is hard to be different and not do or eat what everyone else is doing or eating.

Raizel was talking about the Thanksgiving school menu for weeks.  Her teachers were concerned that she might feel left out or deprived that she could not eat what all the other children were eating. They are so kind, that they bought a microwave that would only be for kosher food!

I made this wonderful crockpot turkey with sweet potatoes for the first time in years. It is fast, easy, all natural and delicious.

Paired with a super simple frozen green beans, Raizel was able to have a delicious thanksgiving lunch on the fly.

It occurred to me that this is a perfect simple menu for anyone!

Maple Syrup and Mustard Turkey Legs with Sweet Potatoes

 Ingredients

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in cubes

3 turkey legs, skinned

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup prepared mustard, of your choice

½ teaspoon garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, ginger

¼ teaspoon pepper, to taste

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt to taste.

Optional: Thicken broth with 1 tablespoons of tapioca.

 Directions 

Put sweet potatoes in the bottom of the pot. Add the turkey legs on top. Mix together the maple syrup, mustard and spices and then pour over turkey.

Stove top: bring to boil and let simmer until done. Adjust seasonings to taste, if necessary.

Crockpot. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 7 hours or on high-heat setting for to 3 to 3-1/2 hours.

In pressure cooker: 12 minutes to pressure and then use the quick release method by running cold water over the lid when done.

Easy Garlic Green Beans

 Ingredients

1 lbs. frozen green beans

3 cloves garlic, crushed

Salt and pepper to taste.

¼ cup water (approximately)

Optional: 1 tablespoon of olive oil or margarine.

 Directions 

Place frozen green beans in a skillet. Add 1/4 cup water. Cover the skillet, then steam the beans until tender. Add crushed garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste. For an extra rich flavor, add oil or margarine and mix well.

Since I was not originally planning on posting these recipes, unfortunately, I only have 2 pictures:

 

The final product. Delicious!

Simple and easy green beans. Add extra oil for a richer taste. Raizel added toasted sesame oil. Yum!

I am happy to say that it was a success! Both girls, and even my husband liked it very much.

 

Enjoy!

 

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

 

 

 

 

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!

Homemade DIY Bean Butter

Homemade DIY Bean Butter

The rise in nut and seed allergies in children has necessitated some old-fashioned culinary ingenuity on my part.

Up until recently, Yaffa’s favorite lunch was humus with almost anything or a peanut butter sandwich.

However, due to today’s severe nut and seed allergies, humus and/or peanut butter are no longer an option.

I needed to learn how to adjust and adapt: What could I make that is healthy, all natural, nut-free, seed-free, vegan and also suitable for a pack-n-go lunch??

My friend Malka suggested trying soy butter instead of peanut butter. That suggestion was quickly vetoed. No one liked the taste or the consistency of commercial soy butter.

In addition, I prefer to limit our soy consumption.  Soy is ubiquitous in so many products today. I worry that eating too much of anything, even if it is supposedly healthy, is ultimately unhealthy.

Malka’s suggestion, however, got my creative juices flowing. I thought: “If it is possible to make soy butter, why wouldn’t it also be possible to make something similar with different beans instead?”

Eureka! It worked!

The formula of 1 ½ cups roasted beans: 2 tablespoons of oil: 1 cup of water works with all sorts of beans. I have made this with black-eyed peas, kidney beans and white beans. Our current favorite is chickpeas.

The trick is to make the beans more “nut-like” by roasting them and then adding oil.

To save time, I make a large amount at one time and then freeze it in smaller amounts. This way I only need to defrost as needed. One batch can last for quite a while.

I also stagger each step in the process. One night, I make the beans in the crockpot. The next day, I roast the beans in the oven. Up to a few days later, when I have the time, I mix everything all together. By chunking each task, it feels less time consuming.

Homemade Bean Butter

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups cooked and then roasted beans

2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons sugar (to taste)

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste

Optional: Cocoa powder, cinnamon and vanilla

Directions:

Cook beans and then roast in 425*F oven. I add a bit of oil, so that they will get slightly crispy.

Soak roasted beans with water and oil until soft and most of the liquid is absorbed.

Pulse in food processor or an immersion blender until smooth, adding more liquid if necessary.

Add sugar, salt, cocoa powder, cinnamon and vanilla to taste. Process until smooth.

Here are the step by step pictures:

 

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Chickpeas after they were roasted

My new way of keeping track of what I cook. Make a picture!

 

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Soaking the beans until the water is absorbed.

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Pureeing with an immersion blender.

Pureeing until smooth

Final product. Adjust the amount of liquid until desired consistency.

I find that a little bit of sugar makes the spread more palatable. Malka suggests making a more savory version using salt, herbs and spices.

For people who need to avoid nuts and seeds, this is a healthy, yummy alternative.

Try it, you’ll like it!

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!

 

 

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!

Cinnamon Pull Aparts

Cinnamon Pull Aparts

Raizel’s obsession with cinnamon was not assuaged by the cinnamon muffins.  Although my cinnamon muffins were good, apparently, they still did not compare to Cinnamon Pull Aparts.

So, last week, Raizel, her friend Cassy, and Cassy’s mother, Consolita and I had a bonding experience. We baked Cinnamon Pull Aparts together.

As I shared, originally, my niece,  “Yo-Yo,” gave me a great recipe for Cinnamon Pull Apart Buns. However, when the time came to make the recipe, it was too blury to read.

So, Consolita and I did a quick Google search and found this recipe, originally from the Fleishman’s Yeast Company. I altered it slightly, as I made the dough in a food processor, minimized the amount of margarine used, and rolled it out and baked them as a pinwheel slices, rather than as balls of dough.

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour (I use spelt). Add up to 1/4 more to prevent it from being too sticky.

1/4 cup sugar

2.5 teaspoons RapidRise Yeast

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk (I used rice milk)

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup oil (original recipe called for margarine)

1 egg

Filling

1 cup sugar (I used Demerara, raw sugar)

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 cup margarine, melted (I used Smart Balance)

Glaze:

1 cup icing sugar

3 tablespoons milk (I used rice milk)

Instructions:

Place flour, sugar, yeast and salt in food processor and pulse to blend. The original recipe called for warming the milk, but, I did not do that. Instead, I added hot water to the milk, together with the oil and the egg, and blended it until it formed a smooth dough.

Kneed dough on a lightly floured surface until well blended and slightly elastic. Cover and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Blend together the sugar, cinnamon and melted margarine.

Roll the dough into a rectangle, on a lightly floured surface or between 2 layers of parchment paper.

Spread the sugar, cinnamon and margarine over the dough.

Starting on the long side, roll up dough as tightly as possible, jelly-roll style.

With a serrated knife, slice into ½ inch slices and place pieces closely together cut side down on greased or parchment lined pan.

Bake in a preheated 375*F oven, until done and rolls are golden brown.

For glaze: Mix the icing sugar and milk in a bowl, adding the milk 1 teaspoon at a time. Stir until desired consistency.

Drizzle glaze over rolls while still warm.

These are the original instructions:

Combine 2 cups flour, sugar, dry yeast and salt in a large mixer bowl and stir until blended. Combine milk, water and butter in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on HIGH in 15 second increments until very warm but not hot to the touch (120° to 130°F.  Butter won’t melt completely). Add to flour mixture with egg.

Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 1 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in just enough remaining flour so that the dough will form into a ball.

Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic and dough springs back when lightly pressed with 2 fingers, about 6 to 8 minutes. Cover with a towel; let rest for 10 minutes.

For filling, combine sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl.

Cut dough into 36 pieces.   Dip each piece into the melted butter and then roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Place in fluted tube pan that has been generously sprayed with cooking spray.  Combine any remaining butter and sugar and drizzle over rolls. Cover with towel; let rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Bake in preheated 375ºF oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until rolls are golden brown. Cool 5 minutes in pan, then invert on serving plate.

Making it it the food processor was much faster and easier!

Here are the pictures:

Mixing dough in the food processor. Much easier and faster!

 

 

dough fully blended.

dough fully blended.

 

 

Rolling out the dough between 2 layers of parchment.

Rolling out the dough between 2 layers of parchment.

Spreading out the filling over the dough.

Spreading out the filling over the dough.

Ready to bake.

Ready to bake.

Ready to be iced!

Ready to be iced!

I forgot to take a picture right away. Here are the leftovers.

Final outcome: Raizel and everyone else loved the rolls. The smell of cinnamon was heavenly too!

Overall, this was a successful culinary adventure, and fun too. It turns out that Consolita is a great cook, and she agreed to do this more often. I now have a cooking buddy!

Enjoy!

Reference:

http://www.breadworld.com/recipes/Beginners-Cinnamon-PullApart-Bread

In A Hurry Nut Drop Cookies

This is another recipe from my mother. While we were visiting, my mother had one of her various meetings. This recipe was her contribution.

My mother said that this is her go-to cookie recipe when she is short on time and wants to serve something simple and yet spectacular.

These cookies have an added panache, as you can adapt the flavor with different spices. And, they are also kosher for Passover!

 

Ingredients

1 lbs nuts or seeds. My mother said that “peanuts are the best, but any combination will work.”

1 egg

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

Optional: coriander and cardamom

Instructions

Beat egg with sugar and spices. Add nuts. Shape into cookies, drop on parchment line pan.

Bake in 325*F oven until set.

Optional, sprinkle with icing sugar when done, but my mother thinks they are sweet enough.

To give as a gift, place gently into a glass mason jar. Cover and decorate with a nice ribbon or bow.

Mixed and ready to drop.

Mixed and ready to drop.

Drop with a spoon onto parchment paper.

 

Ready to bake!

Ready to bake!

In a jar to give as a gift.


Fast, easy, sophisticated and yum!

Enjoy!