Za’atar crusted Chicken

_dsc0004Growing up in Israel, Za’atar was a staple at our house.  Za’atar is a spice mix made from thyme, oregano, sesame seeds, and sumac (along with a few more mix ins) and is typically sprinkled over hummus or on bread. A few months ago, I was ecstatic to find Za’atar on Amazon – it was an authentic mix, imported from the middle east – in one pound bags.  Needless to say, I was looking for some other ways to use the mix aside from when snacking with some hummus.

This recipe is so so easy.  And as a busy mom, I’m always looking for the flexibility that this recipe provides.  Aside from searing the chicken, everything else is cooked together in one pan, and the whole recipe requires about 10 minutes of hands-on time.  This is something I can prep ahead of time and let it cook while I bathe and feed my son.

Za’atar crusted Chicken
(serves 2-3)

1 lb boneless chicken thighs
2 medium potatoes, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 sweet potato, cut into 2 inch cubes or slices
1-2 carrots, cut to 1/2 inch thick slices
1 turnip, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
3 tbs Za’atar
1/2 tbs lemon juice
3 tbs olive oil

Set oven to 375 degrees.  Coat both sides of the chicken with 2 tbs Za’atar seasoning and sprinkle with lemon juice.  In a saute pan with 1 tbs olive oil and under medium heat, sear the chicken for about 45 seconds on each side.  In a pyrex pan, lay all the vegetables and sprinkle with the rest of the zaátar seasining and olive oil and mix to evenly coat.  Place seared chicken on top of vegetables, cover with foil and bake for 45-50 minutes, until vegetables are soft and chicken is cooked thoroughly.

_dsc0001

Cook on,
– shirley

 

baba ganoush

img_0205

When you’re a kid and your mom tells you that she’s making eggplant for dinner, you’re less than excited.  I think my common responses were “no, thank you, mom” or “can I have some fettuccine Alfredo instead?”  But as you’ve seen by my previous recipes, like this one for eggplant parm, I’ve grown to love eggplant.  Not only is it so versatile, it’s an incredibly filling vegetable.  I’ll never pass up some filet mignon, but some days, a healthy vegetarian meal is all you need.

Shirley and I grew up eating homemade hummus, tahini, and baba ganoush at home, and I’ve been making it in my own home ever since.  If you’re unfamiliar, baba ganoush is a popular Mediterranean side dish consisting of cooked eggplant and spices.  It is incredibly easy to make, so flavorful, and a great side dish if you’re sick of yet another day of chips and dip!

Baba Ganoush
(Makes 3 cups)

2 medium eggplants
5 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Bake the eggplants in a 375 F oven until very soft, about 30 minutes.  Allow the eggplant to cool, and then peel completely.

In an 8-cup food processor, combine the eggplant, garlic, lemon juice, and mayonnaise.  Process until the mixture is uniform.  Drizzle in the olive oil and process, being careful not to over-process.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve as a side dish with vegetables, crackers, or pita!

– food on,
Sharon

img_0211

creamy spinach

IMG_0737
For the longest time, I didn’t have an immersion blender in my new apartment.  And when you have such a love for creamy spinach like I do, that’s a real issue.  So as soon as my birthday rolled around, and the “what do you want for your birthday?” talks began, it was only logical for this young lady to request a purple immersion blender.

What’s the big deal about some creamy spinach, you ask?!

Well, this creamy spinach is only the most delicious side dish you could ever have.  Shirley and I grew up with our mom making this dish for us.  I always loved that it felt like a meal in itself.  It wasn’t just a piece of broccoli or asparagus that I got sick of after two pieces.  Heck, I even remember standing over the stovetop with a spoon sneaking bite after bite while my mom yelled at me to move!

This is an easy dish that you will not regret!  Enjoy!

Creamy Spinach
(Makes 6 servings)

2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp salted butter
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup 2% milk (may be substituted with another 1/2 cup of vegetable stock)
1/2 tsp salt
10 oz frozen chopped spinach (or about 24 oz fresh spinach)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup grated cheese (Gruyere, Fontina, or Cheddar)
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small pan, melt the butter and stir in the flour until blended in.  Continue to stir on low heat until the mixture is light yellow.  Add the stock, 1/2 tsp salt, and milk in a few batches, stirring after each addition, until a uniform texture is reached.  Keep adding liquid to form a smooth and thick paste.  Remove from heat.

In a large pan, sauté the chopped onion in olive oil until translucent.  Add the spinach and reduce heat.  Let cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the sauce to the spinach and stir well.  With an immersion blender, process the mixture until smooth.  Add the grated cheese and stir well.  Lastly, add the salt, pepper, and grated nutmeg to taste.

– food on,
Sharon

IMG_0734

Açaí Bowl with blueberries, strawberries, bananas, honey, chocolate chips, and granola

_DSC0356

I never jumped on the açaí bandwagon.  Sure it’s healthy, exotic and has a lot of antioxidants, but so do a lot of other things.  But, about 6 months ago, I had my first açaí bowl and wow, I was hooked.  I couldn’t believe how tasty it was.  And, like other recipes I’ve mentioned before…I thought, they call this breakfast?? Sign me up because to me, this tastes like dessert.  I’ve had a few bowls since, but decided that this was simple enough that I could make it at home.

The only thing I needed to tackle was this açaí berry thing.  After some (okay, alot) of looking and digging, I honed in on what to buy and how to make these bowls.  I found that regular grocery stores had no açaí berry selection (aside from juice), trader joe’s was no help (for once!), and my best bet was whole foods.  The frozen foods section had a few different options – what you want the açaí fruit frozen packs that are supposed to be used in smoothies.  I’ve used the unsweetened packs before, and given the honey and sweet fruits, I personally prefer those.

_DSC0355

Açaí Bowl with blueberries, strawberries, bananas, honey, chocolate chips, and granola
(makes 2 bowls)

2 single serving frozen açaí berry pouches, ~7 ounces
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 banana, thinly sliced
5 strawberries, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup granola
2 tbs honey
2 tbs coconut flakes

In a blender, mix together the açaí berry and the coconut milk until a smooth consistency is reached.  Place in freezer for approximately 10 minutes.  Scoop the açaí berry mixture into a bowl.  Place strawberries, blueberries, bananas, chocolate chips and granola into the bowl and drizzle with honey and coconut flakes.

Açaí on,
– Shirley

Good morning muffins

_DSC0387

I am not a morning person. at. all.  When I have the option to, whether I’m working or not, I’ll be in bed until at least 8 or 9.  Too bad that most mornings I can’t have this luxury, and I am up before 5.  I always have been good about eating breakfast (you mean some people turn down the opportunity to eat?!?! I just don’t get that).   The last thing I want to do at 5 in the morning is try to figure out what to make for breakfast – so, these muffins are great and perfect to eat in the car if I am running late.

The first time I tasted a good morning muffin was at whole foods.  I thought it was so yummy that I immediately found some recipes online as inspiration and played around with ingredients.  Truthfully, I still adjust some of the ingredients and add-ons based on what I have at home – apple sauce, fruit butters, butternut squash all make these muffins taste so so good.

And by the way, if you have a kitchenaid mixer at home, USE IT.  I didn’t use it to make these muffins until recently, and wow.  I regretted not using it every time.  Not only did it make a huge difference in the prep time and eliminating the frustration of mixing a thousand ingredients together, but the muffins came out fluffier and tastier.

muffin prep2

Good morning Muffins
(makes 8 large muffins)

1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup fruit butter, apple sauce, or other fruit “mash”
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup sliced almonds or chopped walnuts
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1 apple, peeled and diced
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup grated carrots

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place muffin cups into a muffin tin.  Mix together all the dry ingredients (flour through salt) until well mixed and uniform.  In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs together and continue to add wet ingredients (vegetable oil, fruit butter, and vanilla extract) to the eggs.  Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, gather together the add ins, and fold into the dough mixture.  Place approximately 1/2 – 3/4 cup mixture into each muffin cup and top with some coconut flakes or sliced nuts.  Place into oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes.  A toothpick placed into a muffin should come back clean when the muffins are ready.  Enjoy!

Breakfast on,
– shirley

muffins before

 

 

back to basics: hummus

IMG_0200
With the Jewish New Year having just passed, I’ve been thinking a lot about home.  Growing up along the Mediterranean Sea, hummus and pita was almost always a part of every meal.  Authentic hummus and freshly out of the oven pita is one of the simplest, yet most delicious meals you could ever have.  So since moving to the US, our standards for both have been very high.  Over time, we’ve found that there’s really nothing better than homemade.  There’s just no comparison.

Today we’ll start with the hummus.  Because the truth is, when hummus is this good, you could literally eat it with a spoon.  No cracker, chip, pita, carrot, or bread required (although all will be just fine along with it).  The prep time may seem daunting, but I assure you, the patience will be so worth it once you take that first taste.

Hummus
(Makes 8 cups)

2 cups dry chick peas
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup raw tahini
Juice from 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak the chick peas in water for 8 hours (or overnight) in a large pot.  Drain.  Add water once again to cover, plus 1 inch, as well as the baking soda.  Mix well.  Cook the chick pea and water mixture on low heat.  Skim off any foam with a spoon.  Continue to cook over low heat for 60 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Drain the water, being sure to reserve the liquid.

In a food processor, combine the drained chick peas with the garlic, and process to a uniform mixture.  Add the tahini and lemon juice and continue to process.  The mixture will become thicker over time.  If you feel that the mixture becomes too thick, add some of the reserved liquid.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with fresh parsley, olive oil, za’atar, and/or pine nuts.  Serve chilled with pita bread, vegetables, pita chips, or crackers!

food on,
Sharon

IMG_0198

roasted garlic cauliflower

IMG_0553
I think the wintry temperatures have officially hit south jersey.  The nights have been filled with hot showers, cuddling, blankets, reading, hot tea, and lana del rey playing throughout the house.  The short days don’t do much to help my motivation.  As a result, we’ve been relying on quick, simple, and filling dishes to get us through these first few weeks.  When 50 degrees feels like the coldest thing ever.  I know that sounds ridiculous.  Sharon from 3 months from now is currently laughing out loud at present Sharon.

I made this side dish last week on one of those cold nights.  It’s a easy and healthy dish.  Cauliflower has very high amounts of both vitamin c and vitamin k, and garlic is rich in antioxidants, so your taste buds AND body will be happy.  Win-Win.

So cuddle up with your loved ones on these chilly nights, and eat these cauliflower nuggets like you’re an extra on those hidden valley commercials.

IMG_0391
Roasted Garlic Cauliflower
(Serves 3-4)

1 head cauliflower, washed and cut into small florets
1/3 cup olive oil
4 heads of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower florets, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Ensure that all the florets are evenly coated.

On a sheet pan, spread the florets evenly through the pan.  Bake for 15 minutes, flip the florets, and bake for 15 minutes more.  Serve warm.

– food on,
Sharon

IMG_0557