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Pumpkin Swirl Pareve Cheesecake

November 23, 2011

Best part about Fall?  PUMPKIN!  Now, I know you can get canned pumpkin all year round, but for some reason, when the leaves start crunching, I start making everything pumpkin.  Last year, just before Thanksgiving, I posted the amazing pumpkin pecan white chocolate chunk waffles.  This year, it’s dessert!  The perfect pareve pumpkin swirl cheesecake.  It really only came about because I had tofutti cream cheese and sour cream in my fridge that needed to get used up, but the result was delectable!

2 packs graham crackers
1 stick margarine, melted
2  8 oz  packages tofutti cream cheese
1  12 oz. package tofutti sour cream
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons brown sugar
4 eggs
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon rum extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

What’s a cheesecake without a graham cracker crust?  It’s legit the easiest thing.  First, grind the graham crackers in the food processor.  Then mix with the melted butter, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt and press into an 11″ springform pan.  Tip: Use the bottom of a glass to press in the crust.  Bake the crust at 325 degrees for 5 minutes.  Make sure it’s totally cooled before you pour the batter in.

Beat the cream cheese, sour cream, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1 cup white sugar until smooth.  Add 2 eggs and beat smooth.  Remove 1 cup of the mixture (save it for the swirling).  Then add 2 more eggs, the can of pumpkin, extracts, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, pinch nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Beat until smooth, but don’t over beat!

Pour the orange mixture into the crust.  Pour dollops of the white into the orange and swirl it all together.

Pop it in the oven (forget about water baths…too much work) at 325 for about an hour until it’s set but the middle jiggles a little bit.  Let it cool for at least an hour, then refrigerate overnight.

A new twist on an old Thanksgiving desert…and it freezes really well!

Smokey Roasted Bell Rice & Kielbasa with Black Beans

October 28, 2011

I really love the soy chorizo.  It’s SO spicy and delicious!  After having the soy version so many times, my husband asked if, at some point, I would make some real meat, so I picked up some kielbasa (next best thing?).  When I saw Rachael Ray’s version of this recipe, I figured I’d give it a try, and the payoff was great.  I served it at a meal with little kids and they loved the meat and even had some of the veggies & rice.

1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
2 tablespoons consumme
2 roasted & peeled bell peppers
(I used orange because that’s what I had on hand.  To learn how to roast a bell pepper, click here.)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle powder
1 lb. kielbasa, sliced on an angle (or sliced soy chorizo)
2 jalapenos, seeded & finely chopped
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz. can diced fire roasted tomatoes, drained
15 oz. can black beans, drained & rinsed

1/3 cup chopped parsley for garnish
salt, pepper & olive oil

Cook the rice according to the instructions, combining the consumme into the water before adding the rice.  While the rice is cooking, puree the roasted bell peppers with the paprika, 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder and a pinch of salt and pepper.  When the rice is done cooking, stir in the roasted bell sauce.

Heat a skillet and add a drizzle of olive oil.  Add the kielbasa slices and cook for a couple minutes on each side until it crisps up.  When it’s crispy on both sides, put it on a paper towel lined plate to get the extra oil out.

Add the garlic, onions, and jalapenos and sautee until transleucent.  Then add the tomatoes, beans and 1/4 teaspoon chipotle.  Stir to combine.

To serve, make a bed of rice, pile on the veggies and beans, and top with the chorizo.  Use the parsley for garnish.

This is a fantastic reheat meal because the bell pepper sauce keeps the rice moist and the spices keep it tasting delish for days!


Chicken Vindaloo

October 23, 2011

No, I haven’t forgotten how to cook, but I have become even shorter on time!  When it came to prepping for the Simchat Torah holiday and three more days of crazy meals, I was brainstorming one pot meals, to save room in the fridge.  Indian is one cuisine I have never really experimented with, so I figured, if not now, when?  I saw a recipe in Eating Light magazine and, with a few twists to fit our picky eating habits, we fell in love with Chicken Vindaloo.  It’s low maintenance, filled with flavor, and super fun to say (over and over!)  If you’re a vegetarian, you could totally do this without the chicken, or us a soy protein!

Chicken & Marinade
2 1/2 lbs. chicken drumsticks, skin removed
3 tbsp. cider vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
5 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno, seeded
1 tbsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. turmeric

Pulse marinade ingredients in the food processor until smooth.  Pour marinade in a bag with the chicken.  Leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours.  (Women’s Day says up to six hours, but I only did the two hours.)

The rest of the goodies
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 small onions, sliced
1 lb yukon gold potatoes, cut in 1 in. pieces
1 3/4 cups marinara sauce
2 cups baby spinach

Sautee the onions and potatoes in the olive oil until the onions soften.  Pour over the marinara sauce and bring to a bubble.

Top with the marinaded drumsticks and pour the leftover marinade over the top.  Cover the pan for thirty minutes.

Remove the chicken briefly.  Wilt in the spinach with the onion, potato, tomato mixture.  Replace the chicken and serve.

This is the kind of meal that warms your inside with its heartiness and spices.  The smells will make your mouth water and the full meal in one pan will keep you coming back to this recipe in the future!

Peaches & Cream Stuffed French Toast

July 24, 2011

The only good thing about this summer heat is that the summer fruits soak up the sun and get filled with juicy deliciousness.  I had quite a few juicy peaches waiting to be eaten, so, when I had a half of a challah leftover from Shabbat, I decided it was time to get creative.  I’ve mentioned other uses for leftover challah, like cinnamon bread pudding, peanut butter banana french toast, and savory bread pudding.  This one is perfect for summer brunch or even a lovely dessert treat!

3 thick slices of day-old Challah
2 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 medium peach, finely chopped
3 tablespoons Peach Schnapps
2 teaspoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons fat free cream cheese
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Extra peach & powdered sugar for garnish

Combine chopped peach, schnapps and brown sugar.  Let sit for 10 minutes.

Mash in cream cheese.  It’s easier to do this if you move the peaches out of the way and use the liquid that has accumulated in the bottom of the bowl. Mix until there aren’t any more clumps.  Now you’ve got the peaches and cream filling!

In each slice of Challah, cut a slice that goes to the bottom, but not all the way through.  Essentially, you’re slicing a little pocket.  If your slices are too thin to do this, or you’re having trouble, you can just make sandwiches with the filling.  I like doing the pocket because it holds together well in the pan and you get minimal filling oozage when you’re French toasting them.  Fill each pocket with 1/3 of the peaches and cream filling.

In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, milk and sugar.  Dunk each stuffed slice into the mixture until each side is softened.  Heat up a frying pan with a little cooking spray.  Add each slice.  Flip when lightly browned and brown the other side.

Serve with extra slices of peach and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.  No syrup necessary!

This is a sweet, rich and delectable use for this summery fruit. An amazing breakfast for a day when it’s too hot to go out!

Rustic Greek Style Pizza

June 17, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve made pizza.  Well, if I’m being honest with myself, it’s been a while since I cooked at all, what with Shavuot leftovers and starting my new job.  But, in any case, I’m back with another marinara-less pizza.  If you remember, I’m not such a fan of tomatoes, so I’m always interested in alternatives.  Thus far, I’ve shared with you a pesto pizza and a white pizza…today, folks, it’s roasted red-pepper sauced pizza!  The sauce is loaded with flavor, quick and fresh, and would be awesome as a dip for chips, over pasta, or on this pizza.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce Ingredients
1 roasted red pepper

2 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons chopped red onion
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and Pepper to taste

You can totally use jarred roasted red peppers, but if you want to go the fresh route, here’s how to roast a red pepper.  Either place the pepper on your gas stove top (over the flame) and char it on all sides, or put in in the oven on broil, rotating until all sides are charred.  Place in a heat proof bowl with plastic wrap tightly wrapped around the bowl.  Let the pepper cool to touch.  The peel should come off really easily, as should the seeded middle.  That’s it!

Load the food processor with the garlic, onion, roasted red pepper, olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper.  Grind until the sauce is smooth (watch out for garlic chunks!

Pizza Ingredients
Dough (fresh or pre-made)

1 cup roasted red pepper sauce
1 1/2 cup fresh baby spinach
1 cup muenster cheese (you could also use mozzarella, but I like this version)
A few slices of red onion
1/4 cup feta crumbles
Optional: Sun dried tomatoes & black olives

Coat pizza stone in corn meal.  Stretch dough over pizza stone.  (Whatever shape you get…just go with it.  This is rustic pizza!)  Spread roasted red pepper sauce over the dough.  Leave an edge for the crust.  Coat the sauced area in baby spinach.  This is a little known fact that I learned from a friend who used to work in a pizza shop.  If you put the spinach under the cheese, it won’t get brown and yucky!  Sprinkle cheese over the spinach and add the red onion slices (and sun dried tomatoes and black olives if you’re interested).

Bake the pizza at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes until the cheese is bubbly.  When you remove the pizza from the oven, sprinkle the top with feta crumbles.  (The trick is to do this wall the pizza is hot, but not while it’s in the oven so the feta doesn’t completely melt.)  Also give it a sprinkle of dried oregano.

Serve the pizza with a Greek salad and enjoy an easy, unique meal!

Bean & Veggie Enchiladas

June 6, 2011

It seems everyone always gets stressed out about what to make for Shavuot, but it happens to be my favorite holiday!  I think I’ve made it clear over the course of the 42 posts that I’ve done (!!) that I LOVE dairy…I do!  (Which reminds me, click here for all of my dairy recipes so you can get last minute inspiration for your Shavuot meals.)  Of all the dairy in the world, I love Mexican food the most!  And since my birthday falls out over Shavuot this year, you better believe there will be a fiesta in our house!  Forget about lasagnes and zitis, this Shavuot, enchiladas are where it’s at!

2 small yellow onions
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 4 oz. can diced green chilis (Hatch brand is kosher.  Pay attention to the mild or hot label and choose accordingly!)

2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
1/2 cup corn (either roasted fresh, frozen, or canned)
1 can black beans, drained
1 can dark kidney beans, drained
Salt & Pepper to taste
Olive oil for sauteing
8 burrito sized tortillas (I used whole wheat, but you could also use flour or corn)
1 14 oz. can of green chili enchilada sauce (again, I used the Hatch brand)
1/2 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons salsa (whatever is your favorite)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Scallion & chopped tomato for garnish

Finely chop the onions and bell peppers.  I used my handy, dandy Vidalia Chop Wizard.  Combine with the minced garlic, chilis and corn and saute in 1 tablespoon olive oil on a low heat until the onions are translucent.  Note:  You could totally add other veggies (I like adding zucchini and yellow squash) like olives or whatever else into this mixture.  It’s a concept more than a recipe…experiment away!

In the mean time, coursly mash the black and kidney beans together.  I just used my hands and squeezed, but you could use a potato masher or even just pulse them in the food processor.  If it’s feeling super thick, you can thin it out with a bit of olive oil.  Don’t worry, when you combine it with the veggies, the juices will thin it out more.

Once the veggies are tender, add the bean mash and fold until the beans are evenly distributed through the veggies.  Saute for another 2-3 minutes so the flavor melds.  Add salt and pepper if you’re interested.  I didn’t since the filling and sauce has so much flavor.

Combine the enchilada sauce, sour cream, 1/2 cup shredded cheese and salsa.  Coat the bottom of a 9×13 pyrex with 1/3 of the sauce.  Fill each tortilla with 3/4-1 cup of the bean and veggie mixture.  Wrap it like a burrito and place it, fold side down, into the pan.  They don’t all need to be in the same direction.  You can cut the dish like a lasagne later.  When all the tortillas are filled, pour the rest of the sauce over the top.  Sprinkle remaining shredded cheese over top and scallions.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.  Add chopped tomatoes as soon as you take it out of the oven.

This dish has protein, veggies and dairy all in one pan.  I’m serving it up with jalapeno poppers and some yummy roasted corn (and salad, chips & salsa).  This is an excellent make ahead meal, which makes it perfect for Shavuot!

Cilantro Chicken and Grilled Spring Salad

May 27, 2011

This meal is everything I love about food: fresh, local, healthy, flavorful, and FAST!  I was completely inspired by the farmer’s market and let the ingredients shine with their bright, spring deliciousness.  Best of all, it’s done in ONE pan…less dishes!!

Cilantro Chicken Ingredients
2 chicken cutlets
1/2 cup cilantro, packed
1/2 jalapeno
3 large cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

First, trim the cilantro stems off and put the tops into the food processor.  Use a microplane to grate in the jalapeno and garlic, so nobody gets a big chunk of it on their chicken.  Add the spices and olive oil and pure until it’s a paste.

Massage the paste onto both chicken cutlets, covering completely.  Refrigerate for 3-6 hours.  Meanwhile, prepare the grilled spring salad.

Grilled Spring Salad Ingredients
1 cob of corn
2-3 scallions
1/2 lb asparagus
olive oil for brushing
salt and pepper for seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic salt

If you don’t have a grill, don’t you worry!  I did this in my little Manhattan apartment, and you can too.  Either grill or roast the corn in the oven at 400 degrees until the husk is charred.  Remove the husk and stringy stuff.  The trick to getting the corn off of the cob without making your workspace into a diaster zone is to put a small bowl upside down in a larger bowl.  Place the end of the corn on there and slide your knife down the cob.  This way, the corn lands in the big bowl.  (Shout out to Rachael Ray for that tip!)

I found these AMAZING scallions at the farmer’s market this week and they were ginormous!  I actually had to cut them in half just to fit them on my grill pan!

In any case, all you have to do is brush the scallions and asparagus with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.  Toss them on the grill or grill pan (I did scallions and then asparagus).  Let them go until they have nice grill lines and are tender.  Depending on the thickness of the asparagus, this might take a while.

Once everything is grilled up, cut the scallions and asparagus on the bias (that’s fancy talk for diagonally) in 1/ 2 inch – 1 inch pieces.  Toss the corn, scallions and asparagus together and add the garlic salt.  The olive oil from the grilled veggies should be enough to keep it moist, but if it feels dry, add another drizzle.

Back to the chicken!  After the marination is done, scrape excess cilantro paste off of the chicken.  If you don’t get it all off, no big deal, but if you leave it all on, it will turn brown and will be less appetizing.  Grill the chicken for about 6 minutes on each side.  I did this on a grill pan, but you could do it on an outdoor grill or just use a skillet.

Serve the chicken and salad with a lime wedge to brighten everything up.

This is a light and springy meal that totally got me in the mood for summer.  It’s a nice way to mix it up for your Memorial Day barbeque this year!