Licorice Twist “Citrus-tini” – A Memorable & Unusual Drink

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citrus arak cocktail with pomegranates

Of all the sources of inspiration that help us create our recipes, I would say that our childhood memories are probably number one on the list.

And although most of them are food related, there is one in particular that is very special to us: it’s the memory of our dad sitting on the couch, watching soccer, eating pistachio nuts, enjoying a glass of Arack, a Middle Eastern, super strong, anise flavored spirit. He would mix it with ice and water (which made this clear liqueur turn white almost milky looking) and drink it slowly, enjoying every sip.

So whenever we know he’ll be coming to visit, we make sure to have a bottle of Arack handy for him to enjoy. But this time, we thought we would surprise him with an Arack inspired cocktail. And we really had to get creative here because, as I’m sure we’ve mentioned before, when it comes to food and drink, our dad is a purist.

We did some research online to try to get some ideas and although we did find really cool and unusual cocktails and drinks, we didn’t find too may that used Arack. So we thought it would be best to just keep it simple: combine some of his favorite fruits, like citrus and pomegranate, sweeten it up a little bit, and that’s it!

Well, mission accomplished. We made it for him today, and he really enjoyed it. Which means, it’s good enough to share with you 🙂

Hope you enjoy it too!

Vicky

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Ingredients (serves 1):
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed Meyer lemon
  • 4 tbsp freshly squeezed clementine juice
  • 3 tbsp Arack  (anise-flavored liqueur)
  • 4 tbsp room temperature water
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
  • Zest of half a Meyer lemon
  • Ice
  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine water and sugar and shake well until dissolved. Add lemon and clementine juices, arack  and ice and shake well.
  2. Pour into a martini glass, add pomegranate seeds and lemon zest

citrus arak cocktail

Meatless Monday – Sumac-Dusted Cauliflower “Steaks”

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Roasted Cauliflower with Sumac and Pomegranate

Happy Monday everyone!

This is the beginning of a very exciting week for us. In about 24 hours, we’ll be on our way to the airport to pick up our parents! They will be staying with us for 3 weeks, which means, once again, we’ll be able to watch our mom work her magic in the kitchen. We already “warned” her that she wasn’t coming here on a vacation… she’s coming here to work! And she didn’t seem to mind at all. Actually, she was really excited to have a chance to be “on the internet” again. She was also really excited about joining us at our Healthy Eating Cooking Class Series we’ll be starting at The American Table next week. “I’ll be your sous-chef, she said. You gotta love it…

So to get this week started, here’s a dish that sort of reminds us of her. It’s our own version of her the roasted cauliflower she used to make when we were kids. She would serve it with “Mjadra” (rice and lentils) which goes really well with our version too. A complete, balanced meal for your Meatless Monday.

Enjoy!

Vicky & Ruth

Roasted Cauliflower with Sumac and Pomegranate

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Ingredients (serves 2-4)
  • 1 large cauliflower, cut into approximately 1inch slices
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp sumac 
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 lemon
  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Brush both sides of each cauliflower steak with olive oil and sprinkle both sides with salt
  3. Place cauliflower slices on lined baking sheet and sprinkle with sumac
  4. Bake at 375F for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes, until tender.
  5. Top with pomegranate seeds and a squeeze of fresh lemon right before serving

Roasted Cauliflower with Sumac and PomegranateSlice the cauliflower into approximately 1 inch pieces or “steaks”

Roasted Cauliflower with Sumac and Pomegranate

Sprinkle sumac on top right before roasting. Its lemony flavor compliments the cauliflower beautifully!

Roasted Cauliflower with Sumac and PomegranateENJOY! From May I have that recipe

Dairy & Gluten Free Savory Bread Pudding

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gluten free savory bread pudding

Have you ever noticed how some people cringe when they hear certain food related words? Like “gluten free”, or “vegan” or “dairy free”… As if those words automatically meant tasteless and just plain gross.

Especially when doing nutritional counseling, that’s something that happens to me way too often. If I had a penny for every time I’ve gotten an eye roll or a look of disgust when I mention tofu or  gluten free cake, I’d be a millionaire by now.

Interestingly enough, when those same people try these foods without knowing what they are, they love it.

Funny how we let our preconceived ideas dictate our choices, uh?

Take this gluten free bread pudding for example. If I didn’t tell you, there is no way you would be able to tell it’s gluten free. And unless you were a cheese connoisseur, in my opinion, you wouldn’t be able to tell it’s dairy free either.

Granted, to achieve that, you need to use high quality products and reliable brands, which we do of course… But thankfully, that’s an easy task since they’re available pretty much everywhere  nowadays.

So go ahead, gather some of your pickiest and skeptical friends and give it a try. I’d love to hear their thoughts 🙂

Enjoy!

Ruth

Gluten Free Savory Bread Pudding

Prep time: 5 minutes plus 15 minutes soaking time
Cook time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup gluten free pasteurized egg whites (or 8 large egg whites)
  • ÂĽ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened plain almond milk (we use Silk Pure Almond)
  • 3 gluten free hot dog buns (we use Udi’s Gluten Free)
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp non-hydrogenated vegetable spread (here we used Earth Balance Garlic & Herb spread, for extra flavor)
  • 1 ÂĽ  cups shredded pepperjack or cheddar style non-dairy, gluten free cheese (here we used Daiya Pepperjack )
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 1.5 quart round casserole dish generously with cooking spray or grease lightly with oil
  2. Sauté thawed spinach in olive oil at medium heat. Season with 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook for about 5 minutes. Set aside
  3. Cut buns in half lengthwise and spread each one lightly with vegetable spread. Cut into aproximately 1 1/2 inch cubes
  4. In a large bowl, beat eggs and egg whites, season with salt and black pepper. Add almond milk, cooked spinach and 1 cup shredded cheese and mix until well combined
  5. Arrange bun cubes in prepared casserole dish. Pour egg mixture all over the bread, pressing down gently so it’s well covered. Let it soak for 15 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle remaining ÂĽ cup shredded cheese on top and bake in middle rack at 350F for one hour and 15 minutes*

*Note: Bread pudding will puff up as it bakes, so make sure to remove the top rack of your oven, or place it far enough from the casserole dish

Gluten Free Savory Bread PuddingENJOY! From May I have that recipe

Meatless Monday – Moroccan Style Vegetable Soup (“Harira”)

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harira soupI love one pot meals. They’re easy, they’re quick to prepare and they’re usually large enough to last you several days.

And for me, the ultimate one pot meal, is soup. You can literally throw anything in and make it super hearty, filling and balanced. And it’s a great way to get your daily serving of veggies too!

I remember this little Middle Eastern restaurant we used to go to when I first moved here, that served this amazing vegetable and bean soup. Bursting with flavor, hearty… just delicious. And it’s really funny because growing up, most of my friends were of Moroccan origin, and I got to taste a lot of their food, but I don’t remember ever having this soup.

The traditional “Harira” soup is typically made with some kind of meat product and doesn’t include many vegetables. So, of course, we decided to create our own vegan version, adding some extra veggies and a hint of heat, just to spice it up a little bit.

And loved it so much that it’s now one of my favorite “one pot meal soups”, ever.

Hope you enjoy it!

Vicky

harira soup

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 50-55 minutes
  • Ingredients (makes about 18 cups, 4.5 quarts):
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium size bunch cilantro, thoroughly washed and chopped
  • 2 large parsnips, diced
  • 2 medium size turnips, diced
  • 3 large carrots, sliced
  • 8 cups water
  • 1- 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed (we use Eden Organic)
  • 1 cup dry lentils, rinsed ( we use Eden Organic)
  • 1-28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1-28oz can tomato puree
  • 1/2 tbsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  1. In a large soup pot, saute garlic and cilantro in olive oil for 4-5 minutes. Add diced parsnips, turnips  and carrots and cook for another 3 minutes
  2. Add water, bring to a boil and add lentils. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes, until the lentils are tender
  3. Add chickpeas, crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, salt, cumin, turmeric, pepper and cayenne pepper (if using)
  4. Bring to a quick boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered for another 15-20 minutes

harira soup

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip-Coconut Granola Bites

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Gluten Free coconut granola bites recipe

Alright people. It’s January. How many of you are already working on your New Year’s resolutions? To lose weight. To eat healthier. To start exercising again. To quit smoking. To start saving more.

How many of these do we actually manage to keep long term? Probably not too many. And I have my own theory about why this happens: these resolutions we make, they don’t really matter. I mean REALLY matter. They look good. They sound good. But at the end of the day, they don’t really fulfill us. They don’t really “change” us or improve the essence of who we are.

So this year, I’ve decided to change my focus a little bit. I’m determined to work on what really matters and make these the best resolutions yet. And do my best to follow through.

I hope they inspire you as well.

Happy New Year,

Ruth

“Promise Yourself:

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to everyone you meet.

To make everyone you know feel that there is something good in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble in your mind” – Christian D. Larson

Gluten Free coconut granola bites recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 8-10 minutes
  • Ingredients (makes about 20):
  • 1 cup gluten free granola (we use Udi’s Gluten Free Vanilla Granola)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar
  • 3 tbsp bittersweet chocolate chips
  • Cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Spray a mini muffin pan with cooking spay
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Divide the mixture evenly into 20 mini muffin cups, pressing it down gently
  3. Bake at 325F for 15 minutes. Let them cool and unmold carefully, using a butter knife

Gluten Free coconut granola bites recipe

ENJOY! From May I have that recipe

Gluten Free coconut granola bites recipe

Easy Entertaining – Tofu & Green Papaya Salad Cups With Coconut-Peanut Dressing

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Growing up, New Year’s Eve was the night I used to look forward to, more than any other night of the year. To me, it always meant two things: one, I got to stay up really, really late; and two, it was always, always fun, no matter what.

And the funny thing is, I spent most of them at home. No expensive prix fix dinners, no fancy parties. None of that.

As a kid, I remember doing the same thing every year: our parents would go out to a fancy party and stay out all night. I would sleep over my cousin’s house and spend the night playing and watching  the New Year’s comedy show  special on TV (sort of like SNL, Spanish style).  And then, at midnight, “Las Doce Campanadas”.

“Las doce campanadas” is a Spanish tradition where we eat 12 grapes when the clock strikes 12 at the turn of the year. One grape for each bell sound. And instead of watching the ball drop in Time’s Square, in Spain we watch a big clock in Madrid’s  “Puerta del Sol”.

Everyone (and I mean everyone) follows this tradition. Every single TV station does a live broadcast, so people can eat the grapes at the same time. It’s so much fun. And the best part of all, trying not to laugh while eating 12 grapes in 12 seconds and watching everyone else do the same.

I miss that so much.

I still remember the first New Year’s eve I spent here in the US. I was visiting Vicky and we were invited to a wedding. We tried to recreate “Las Doce Campanadas” with blueberries instead of grapes and the ball dropping instead of the bell sounds. I remember people looking at us wondering what the heck we were doing. And some even joined us!

Now, every time we host a New Year’s eve party, we try to share the tradition with our friends. I still don’t think they “get it” all the way, but it’s always makes us laugh. And that’s what really matters, isn’t it?

Happy 2013 everyone!

Enjoy!

Ruth

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Ingredients (makes 24 cups):

To make the wonton cups:

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 24 round wonton wrappers
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F
  2. Brush both sides of each wonton wrapper with extra virgin olive oil. Carefully place them in a mini muffin tin pan, pressing gently in the center to form a cup
  3. Bake at 375F for 7-10 minutes, until golden brown (check often to make sure they don’t burn). Set aside to cool

To make the tofu:

  • 1-16oz pack extra firm tofu, diced*
  • 2 tbs veg oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1/4 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika

*Tip: For a firmer consistency, freeze tofu after buying it. Thaw and squeeze as much water out of it as possible before using

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, combine diced tofu with oil, soy sauce, ginger and spices. Toss well
  3. Transfer tofu to baking sheet and bake at 375F for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool

To make the green papaya salad:

  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup shredded green papaya* (peeled and seeded)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 tbsp Earth Balance Creamy Coconut & Peanut Spread
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 6 dashes vegan worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp thai sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tbsp roasted peanuts (or honey roasted, if you’re not vegan) for garnish
  • 2 tbs black sesame seeds for garnish

*Note: You can find green papaya at Asian Markets and some specialty stores

  1. In a large bowl, combine shredded carrots, shredded green papaya and chopped cilantro
  2. To prepare the dressing, whisk together coconut-peanut spread, rice vinegar, soy sauce, vegan worcestershire sauce, chili sauce and orange juice until well combined. Pour over salad, mix ell and refrigerate until ready to use
  3. Assemble the cups right before serving: fill each cup with papaya salad, add a piece of tofu, and garnish with roasted peanuts and black sesame seeds

Enjoy! From May I have that recipe

Easy Entertaining – Lightened Up Tiramisu Shots

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Light TiramisuWhen life give you lemons, make lemonade. When Chobani sends you Greek Yogurt, make dessert!

If there is one thing we’ve learned over the years and really enjoy doing, is what we call recipe “makeovers”: basically what that means is, we take a recipe and modify it to make it suitable for people with certain dietary restrictions. We make it vegan, or kosher, or dairy free, or we lightened it up… You get the idea.

That’s an area where we can really put our creativity to use and have lots of fun experimenting. Even when the results aren’t what we expected, we still get a laugh out of it.  And that’s one of the greatest things about having a team mate in the kitchen: you can laugh and learn from your “failures” rather than getting upset and frustrated!

So here’s one of the easiest dessert makeovers you’ll probably ever find: a lighter version of the classic Italian Tiramisu. Not overly sweet, creamy (thank you greek yogurt!) and without raw eggs. With a hint of chocolate and, of course, a nice coffee presence.  Presented in little shot glasses to make it elegant and perfect for entertaining… but also for portion control.

You know, just in case you’re already thinking about New Year’s resolutions 🙂

Enjoy!

Vicky and Ruth

light tiramisu

  • Prep time: 15 minutes plus 2 hours refrigeration time
  • Ingredients (makes 4):
  1. Prepare 4 shot glasses 
  2. In a medium bowl, mix Chobani Champion, 2% greek yogurt, cinnamon and espresso powder until well combined
  3. Dip one lady finger half in brewed coffee an place at the bottom of a shot glass
  4. Add yogurt mixture to reach half the cup. Dip another lady finger half in brewed coffee and place on top
  5. Top with more yogurt mixture
  6. Repeat the process with the remaining 3 shot glasses
  7. Refrigerate for about 2 hours and sprinkle  with unsweetened cocoa right before serving

light tiramisuEnjoy! From May I have that recipe

light tiramisu

Easy Entertaining – Gluten Free Za’atar Bagel Chips With White Bean Dip

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gluten free bagel chips with white bean dip

If you’re hosting a Holiday party and need some gluten free ideas to accommodate some of your guests, check this out.

How about a healthier version of chips and dip with a Mediterranean twist? Our friends at Udi’s Gluten Free sent us some of their gluten free bagels to try and, naturally, we made bagel chips. Just because they’re more fun than just spreading some cream cheese on them. And because they’re delicious, super crunchy and make a perfect snack or appetizer.

gluten free chips white bean dip

Best part? No one will even notice they’re gluten free. These folks at Udi’s obviously know what they’re doing 🙂

Want more gluten free party ideas? Check out our Sweet Potato & Zucchini Soup with Millet-Chia Gluten Free Croutons, Vegan Potato Latkes, Patatas Bravas, Baked Falafel with Tangy Tahini Sauce, Lemony Pistachio & Apricot Bites and Piña Colada Tartelettes

Enjoy!

Vicky and Ruth

gluten free bagel chips with white bean dip

Gluten Free Bagel Chips:

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Ingredients: 
  • 2 plain gluten free bagels (we use Udi’s Plain Bagels)
  • 2 2/12 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp za’atar*

*Za’atar is a Middle Easter herb mixture that can be found in specialty stores. If you can’t find it, try using oregano, thyme or Italian seasoning.

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Slice each bagel in half, then cut each half into thin slices (approximately 1/8 inch). Place them in a large bowl, drizzle olive oil and season with za’atar spice. Toss gently so they are coated
  3. Arrange bagel slices in a single layer on baking sheet and bake at 325F for about 20 minutes, until golden brown

White bean dip:

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Ingredients (makes abut 1 1/4 cups):
  • 1-15oz can great northern beans
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine all the ingredients, except olive oil in the food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy, while slowly pouring in the olive oil.

gluten free bagel chips with white bean dip

A Day Of Silence

Today, we are just speechless.

Our hearts go out to the families of the innocent victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. May their souls rest in peace.

“If I Could Be Where You Are” – Enya

“Where are you this moment?
Only in my dreams.
You’re missing, but you’re always
A heartbeat from me.
I’m lost now without you,
I don’t know where you are.
I keep watching, I keep hoping,
But time keeps us apartIs there a way I can find you,
Is there a sign I should know,
Is there a road I could follow
To bring you back home?Winter lies before me
Now you’re so far away.
In the darkness of my dreaming
The light of you will stayIf I could be close beside you
If I could be where you are
If I could reach out and touch you
And bring you back home
Is there a way I can find you
Is there a sign I should know
Is there a road I can follow
To bring you back home to me”

Easy Entertaining – Bulgur Wheat Patties With Spicy Tahini Sauce

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Bulgur Wheat Patties  with  spicy tahini sauce Recipe

So…  are you tired of eating, hearing about and reading about fried food yet?

Ok, we know Hanukkah is not over yet and we still have a few more days to go but… we’re ready to take a little break from the whole oil thing. Are you?

If you agree, you’ll probably love this recipe. To lighten things up a bit we’ve decided to “cheat” a little… In a good way.

How? Well, we’re taking our mom’s classic recipe for bulgur wheat patties (one of our favorite treats as kids which she usually fries) and we’re baking them instead. So the whole oil and frying theme is still there even though we’re not technically frying anything… Kind of like a recipe makeover. Get it?   Bulgur Wheat Patties  with  spicy tahini sauce Recipe

Surprisingly, this lightened up version is even better than the original. And we’re not just saying that, even our mom agrees!

After all, that’s what makeovers are all about, aren’t they?

Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Vicky and Ruth

Bulgur Wheat Patties  with  spicy tahini sauce Recipe

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Ingredients ( yields 8 medium or 16 small patties):
  • 1 cup fine bulgur wheat
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp hot paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling
  • 1/3 cup flour

TAHINI SAUCE
Prep time: 5 minutes
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup tahini paste
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbs water
  • 1 tsp sriracha (or to taste)
  1. In a large bowl, soak bulgur wheat in 1 cup of water for 20 minutes until the water has been absorbed.
  2. With your hands squeeze any water left on the bulgur wheat.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients to bulgur wheat and mix until mell combined
  5. Using your hands, form patties 8 medium or 16 small patties
  6. Arrange patties on lined baking sheet. Drizzle each one lightly with olive oil and bake at 375F for 30 minutes, until golden brown
  7. In the mean time, prepare the spicy tahini sauce. In a small bowl, mix tahini paste, salt with lemon juice with a spoon until it thickens. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time and mix until well incorporated (for thinner sauce, add more water, but remember that sauce will thicken slightly when refrigerated). Add sriracha and refrigerate until ready to use

Bulgur Wheat Patties  with  spicy tahini sauce RecipeBulgur Wheat Patties  with  spicy tahini sauce RecipeENJOY! From May I have that recipeBulgur Wheat Patties Recipe