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Mommy’s Asian Chicken and Spaghetti

27 Jul

Who doesn’t love spaghetti? What kid won’t eat chicken? Put the two together and you have a staple food in our house: chicken and spaghetti. However this recipe from The At Home Gourmet is not the traditional Sephardic chicken and spaghetti we are used to. It uses soy sauce for a more Asian taste and looked like it would take significantly less time to create.

Ingredients; spaghetti, chicken cutlets cut into strips, olive oil, garlic, soy sauce, sugar, ground ginger

The Process: First things first, you have to boil the spaghetti according to package directions and drain it. Nothing surprising about that.

While the spaghetti was cooking I sautéed the garlic in the olive oil and then added the chickens trips to the hot pan and cooked them for about one minute. Then I added soy sauce, sugar and ginger. The chicken was coated in the resulting sauce, and cooked for another 4-5 minutes. I found stirring and having a non stick pan important to prevent the chicken from burning. I tossed this into the spaghetti, a

nd voila dinner as served.

The Results: For the amount of effort needed (minimal) this turned out pretty well. We still prefer the taste of Chicken and Spaghetti from the Aroma’s of Aleppo cookbook but that recipe takes a significant investment of time and labor. I also didn’t love how much sugar was in the recipe. I will still make this again as a quick and easy dinner but it is not on the all time favorite list.

Asian Steak Salad

14 Jul

steak salad veggies

Steak Salad is one of my favorite foods. When the steak is marinated properly it becomes a juicy and filling addition to your salad.

This Asian steak salad recipe really looked like a flavorful twist on an old favorite. I typically like to use a thick juicy piece of meat, like London Broil, for steak salad but this recipe from Kosher by Design called for a thinner skirt steak which cut down on cooking/prep time.

Ingredients: olive oil, garlic, soy sauce, olive oil, sesame oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, peanut or olive oil, red onion, skirt steak cut in thin strips,

yellow pepper, red pepper, mixed greens, sesame seeds

Substitutions: I have used peanut oil but have also substituted with olive oil when peanut allergies became an issue

steak salad dressingThe Process: First I browned the ginger and garlic in olive oil. The soy sauce, olive oil, sesame oil, vinegar and mustard where pulsed in the food processor and then mixed with the ginger and garlic to form the dressing.

I then heated the peanut oil and cooked the steak in it for ten minutes. When it was done I removed it from the skillet with a slatted spatula and set it aside. I placed the red onion and bell peppers in the pan to saute. When they were almost done I added 2-3 tablespoons of dressing cooking and removed it from the heat. The dressing is then added to the green and the peppers and steak are placed on top with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

steak salad veggies cooking

 

The Results: This salad is amazing. It tastes wonderful and is a big hit with company. It is not quite as colorful as the one in the photo unless you under cook the peppers – which tastes the change of the salad and I wouldn’t recommend it.

steak salad veggies cooked

 

 

Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies

12 Jul

old fashioned sugar cookie dough

When looking for rainy day activities baking and decorating sugar cookies is definitely a no brainer. This classic dough from The Complete Cookie looked fun to try, simple and sweet.

Ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, butter, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla

Substitutions: I didn’t have cookie cutters so we used my daughters shape sorters to cut different shapes. This was great as she had to properly name the shape in order to get a cookie!

old fashoined sugar cookie miing

The Process: First I combined all the dry ingredients. I then pulsed the butter into the sugar using a food processor. Slowly I added the eggs, lemon zest and vanilla. I then added the flour (I mixed it in by hand instead of pulsing in the food processor). I felt I needed  few extra tablespoons of flour as the dough was way too sticky to be formed into a ball. Then I placed it in the fridge to cool. My children were very impatient to continue so I took a portion of dough out after 1 hour. This definitely was not a good move as the dough was difficult to roll. The dough that sat and chilled for the entire 3 hours, as advised, was much easier to manipulate.

I used my french style rolling pin to roll neat sheets of dough while the kids used mini 

old fashoined sugar cookie

rolling pins to roll out small patches of dough. We cut the cookies easily  and the refrigerated dough did not stick to the cutters. I placed them on silicone baking mats and used a variety of colored sugars to decorate. Everything was placed in a preheated oven at 350 degrees and baked them for 10 minutes. Do not over bake!

 

The Results: I definitely felt the recipe needed 1/3 c to 1/4 c more flour. The rolling process on the chilled dough was excellent. It did not stick to the rolling pin or the cookie cutters. There is no picture to compare to but these did retain their shape beautifully and did not spread on the sheet.old fashoined sugar cookie on tray

Carrot Souffle

14 Jun

Boiling Carrots

This recipe is not unique to The Bais Yaakov Cookbook. I have seen similar carrot kugels and carrot souffles’ in almost every Kosher cookbook, with small variations. For instance I have crushed everything from Chex to Cheerios while making the crispy topping. Most of these recipes, however, use baby food carrots. This recipe asks the industrious cook to boil and mash their own carrots. Is it worth the effort?

 

Ingredients: carrots, eggs, oil, sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla, cornflake crumbs, brown sugar, margarine, chopped nuts, cinnamon

Carrot Mash    

Substitutions: I use Earth Balance instead of margarine. For chopped nuts I used almonds because that is the only nut nobody in my home is allergic to. I suspect pecans and walnuts may have worked better.

The Process: You start by boiling the carrots so that they can be easily mashed. I found I needed longer than the suggested 15 minutes. I had to boil the carrots for a full 30 minutes before I could easily mash them. While I used a fork you might get a smoother mash with a food processor (this is not suggested in the recipe).

I then preheated the oven and started adding ingredients to the carrot mash. All of this was poured into an oven to table baking dish. The recipe allows for either one large dish or a few small ramekins. While the ramekins might be prettier the one large dish was easier to handle and serve.

I mixed the cornflakes, sugar, Earth Balance and nuts to make a topping. This crumble was spread over the top and the entire thing was baked for 40 minutes.

The Results: It tasted like most other carrot kugels I have tried, except slightly sweeter and slightly more gritty since I hand mashed the carrots. My kids seemed to love it, with one notable exception – they asked me to remove the sugary cereal topping! Is it worth the extra time to mash the carrots? Probably not. It turned a 15 minute process into a 45 minute affair.

                                Carrot Souffle

Quick Teriyaki Chicken Stir-Fry

9 Jun

I grew up on pasta, my husband grew up one rice. Rice and meatballs, rice and beans, rice on Passover. While I definitely enjoy the liberalized Passover diet, I still haven’t quite gotten used to the substitution of rice for pasta. Therefore when I saw this Stir Fry recipe in the Bais Yaakov Cookbook call for rice OR orzo I immediately whipped out a box of orzo and got cooking.

Broccoli also happens to be one green vegetable that my kids will actually eat. Combined with the one pan, stove-top nature of this recipe I practically HAD to try it.

Ingredients: chicken breast, salt, Italian dressing, water, teriyaki sauce, garlic powder, frozen broccoli florets, uncooked rice OR orzo

Substitutions: None

The Process: The Italian dressing is used to sauté the chicken strips. I will admit the smell of heated Italian dressing is mildly revolting. Luckily it dissipates quickly. I then stirred in the water and teriyaki sauce, greatly improving the smell, and the garlic powder. Everything is brought to a boil and the broccoli and orzo are added. I placed the lid on and cooked over low heat for five minutes. That’s it. Done!

The Results: I was skeptical that everything would finish cooking in five minutes, and indeed I found I had to add a little more water water and cook for another few minutes before the orzo was done. However all in all this was a very fast one pot meal with minimal clean up. It also tasted great and was very filling. Containing a starch, protein and vegetable all in one, I found this to be the perfect meal to pack up and take to work. My kids however refused to try it. I think if they had, they would have liked it.

Personally I enjoy the smoother and less dense texture of orzo to rice. I do not know if I would like this dish as much had it been made with rice.

Quick Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry

Chocolate Pecan Pie

7 May

The first time I tried this recipe from Kosher by Design I was a spunky young newlywed preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Pecan Pie is usually too gooey for my taste, with a thin layer of pecans on top of a layer of gelatinous mush. Chocolate however, pair s very nicely with nuts so when I was planning Thanksgiving desserts, this was on obvious one to try. Of course the pressure was on. Remember that dinner I was preparing for? over 50 people were showing up!

Ingredients: margarine, semisweet chocolate morsels, unbaked frozen pie crust, eggs, brown sugar, dark corn syrup, vanilla, pecan halves

Substitutions: I used Earth Balance instead of Margarine

The Process:

First I preheated the oven to 350. Then I started melting margarine over a small flame, adding in half of the chocolate pieces. When everything was well mixed, I removed it from the heat.

To prepare the pie crust I brushed it with a little egg. Then I mixed the sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and eggs into the chocolate mixture. The remaining chocolate pieces were stirred in  and the whole thing went into the pie crust. This bakes for 55 minutes.

The Results:

I love that this recipe doesn’t require a double boiler, a piece of equipment that I have always wanted but never gotten around to buying. I also loved how easy it was – when preparing a 50 person dinner the last thing you need is an hour spent on dessert. My main issue was oven time. 55 minutes is a lot more than a batch of cookies would bake.

The taste however, was excellent. The mixed in chocolate pieces changed the gelatinous mush to something more textured. I’ve tried the recipe many times since and I definitely do not recommend skimping on the corn syrup. Without it the pie is brittle and dry.

Chocolate Chip-Apricot Bars

3 Apr

Jam and Chocolate Spread

Bar cookies are my favorite type of cookie. More substantial than your standard round cookie, with increased fillings and topping possibilities. This Apricot Jam bar from The Spice and Spirit was therefore an easy pick for me to try.

Ingredients: margarine, sugar, egg yolks, flour, vanilla, apricot jam, chocolate chips, egg whites, salt, walnuts

Substitutions: I use Earth Balance instead of margarine

The Process: 

Raw Cookie Base

First I preheated the oven to 350 and used that Earth Balance wrapper to grease the pan. I used my hand mixer to cream the butter, sugar and egg yolks. The flour and vanilla were added in and kneaded by hand as per the instructions. This was helpful as I then had no trouble using my hands to pat the dough into the bottom of a baking pan. Then I slid it into the oven for 15 minutes until slightly browned.

When removed from the oven I spread the jam on top followed by the chocolate chips. I beat the egg whites into a white stiff foam that I used to call “snow” when I used to bake with my mother as a kid. Then I folded in some sugar that had been set aside and the nuts. This was spread over the chips and everything was slid back into the oven for 25 minutes.

Raw “Snow” on Apricot Bars

The Results:

The bars were slightly unmanageable when trying to cut them into neat squares (probably would have been easier if they were frozen). I also did not necessarily enjoy the combination of chocolate and apricot. However others did. So I’d rate this cookie as a partial success.

Chocolate Chip Apricot Bar

 

Blackened Steak and Asparagus Salad

30 Mar

Spice Rub

I like to think of steak salads as “gateway salads”, a way to initiate people who do not usually like salad into the ways of lettuce eating. What better way to trick a carnivore into consuming lettuce than by putting  a piece of meat on top of it? This salad from Kosher by Design Entertains has the added bonus of including asparagus.

 

Ingredients:

onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, white pepper, black pepper, paprika, dried thyme, dried oregano, dried basil leaves, London Broil OR filet, olive oil, asparagus, white wine vinegar OR apple cider vinegar, fresh parsley, lemon juice, fresh garlic, dried basil, crushed red pepper, dried oregano, mesclun lettuce

Spice Rubbed London Broil

 

The Process: 

Blackened Steak in the Sautee Pan

The large list of dried spices gets mixed together to form a rub for the meat. The recipe gives you the option of rubbing both sides but I opted for only putting spice rub on one side. I then seared the meat for ten minutes per side and allowed it to rest for ten minutes. There was a hilarious incident where a sizzle of oil full of cayenne pepper made my eyes water but otherwise this was uneventful and went exactly as described.

I then cut the meat, although I couldn’t quite achieve the paper thin slices the recipe asked for. I added additional olive oil to the pan and seared the asparagus. They did look bright green as described.

 

I then whisked the dressing ingredients together, tossed them with the meat and asparagus and served the dish. I was careful not to put the dressing on until immediately before serving so as not to have mushy wilted lettuce.

Cooking Green Beans

The Results:

London Broil is excellent for this type of dish: it comes out moist and flavorful. The cooking was easy it was a crowd pleaser. I will say it can be a bit spicy for kids. The recipe also specifically calls for mesclun mix that contains radicchio. I elect to not include this as I find radicchio extremely bitter. As mentioned above and seen in my photo it is difficult to get the meat “paper-thin” like the photo in the book.

Bonus: kosher for passover.

Blackened Steak and Asparagus Salad

Ka’ak-Ib-Loz

28 Mar

When I married a Sephardic Jew there were lots of new traditions to get used to – even the engagement party pastries were new and exotic. Instead of the usual heart shaped cookies with our names embossed them I was enchanted to see these sweet little wreaths – Ka’ak-Ib-Loz decorating the tables. Made out of almond and pistachio marzipan they stole the show. For the Love of Cooking was gifted to me a few years later by our grandmother and I decided to try my hand at making them.

As Passover approaches I’m happy to note these cookies are in fact Kosher for Passover. However if you have pistachio allergy in the home like I do – stick to just making the rings with almonds.

Ingredients:

almonds, pistachio nuts, confectioners sugar, orange water, green food coloring

The Process:

The most difficult part of this process is the first part. You have to blanch the nuts (instructions not provided in the cookbook) and then shell them – peeling off all the little brown outside bits from the almonds. This cannot be done if you haven’t blanched the almonds for long enough. Then you grind the nuts in a food processor. At the time I did not have a large food processor, only a small table top one. Then I pulsed in the sugar.

As my pistachios did not have a deep green color after blending I went ahead and mixed the orange water and food coloring in with the nuts. You can skip the food coloring if your pistachios were more vivid than mine. I then tried to shape the mixture into balls and join the ends to make a ring. This was pretty difficult. The mixture was a little crumbly and I felt I needed more liquid of some sort to make it pliable. At this point you can crimp the edges to make them more wreath like before leaving them out to dry. I tried to twist several strands together as well but that didn’t quite pan out given the dry/brittle nature of the dough.

The Results:

The taste was great, but the shapes were not as pretty as I liked. I think if I had a finer grind on the nuts and a little more water I could have done fun things like make different colors and shapes. 

 

Sweet Potato Fries

21 Mar

Ever wish you could have more nutrition in the fries you feed your kids? I do. Which is why I love sweet potato fries, especially when they are baked like the ones in this recipe from Fresh & Easy.

Raw Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

sweet potatoes, oil, sugar, salt, parsley flakes

The Process:

Preheat oven to 450 F. Then I cut the sweet potato fries into strips (if you would like to avoid orange hands, wear gloves). Spread potatoes on a silicone mat, coat with oil and spread into a single layer.  Bake for half an hour until lightly browned and toss potatoes in spice mixture.

The Results:

These are delicious! Did not last over an hour. My kids swoop in and grab them straight from the oven every time I have made these fries. Quick, easy and highly recommended. however you cannot skip the baking mats – without them the fries will stick to the baking sheet and become mushy. Added bonus: these are kosher for passover!

Spicy Sweet Potatoes