When September rolls around, I drop berries and stone fruits like a hot potato and move right on over to apples and pears for fruit desserts. I taught this cake last year and then proceeded to make it for the Jewish holidays and every time we had people over in the fall. Then all my friends who ate it asked me for the recipe and I told them, “sorry, it’s exclusive to my online cooking class!” Little did they know I tweaked an Ottolenghi recipe. LOL. This cake reminds me of a better version of the Silver Palate chunky apple walnut cake that I made 100 times when I was in college. Continue reading
I’m sure you all pushed away your keyboards and ran into the kitchen to poach chicken after Monday’s post, right? Perfect! Now let’s do something healthy and delish with your chicken. I have a recipe for the BEST curried chicken salad I have ever eaten! Even my family, which to my chagrin prefers more “simple” flavors, loves this salad.
I thought it would be a great time to post this curried chicken salad since you might be looking for some new options for school and/or work lunch. At it’s most basic, curried chicken salad is just what it sounds like — chicken salad with curry mixed in. I use a yellow curry powder, which is a blend of different anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, fenugreek and many others. But as opposed to basic, standard chicken salad to which I add celery and onion, I like to add a little something sweet to balance the curry. My husband and I disagree on whether diced apple or halved grapes is better. I think they’re both good, but since I am a sucker for crunch, I usually add apples.
I used to make Ina Garten’s version with Major Grey chutney and white wine, but the chutney is not something I usually use and it was taking up space in the fridge. So I created my own blend of ingredients, including apricot preserves, to mimic the sweet, hot, tart flavor of the chutney. This is the best part of the dressing. So, so good and flavorful! I also like to use shredded, as opposed to cubed or diced chicken, because I think the nooks and crannies of the shredded chicken pick up more of the dressing.
You can make it the day before and tuck it inside of a pita or 2 slices of hearty, whole grain bread. Or, as I like to do it, eat it in a lettuce cup. A little avocado would put this over the top! Feel free to make this spicy or change up the preserves. I think any variation of orange, apricot, peach or kumquat would be great. I like the St. Dalfour brand which is sugar-free and without added preservatives. I think this might become your new favorite chicken salad! For you vegheads, I may try to do a tofu version of this. How does that sound?!
One of the first desserts I made my boyfriend-now-husband was the Chunky Apple Walnut Cake from The Silver Palate Cookbook. Do you remember that book? Even though it’s from 1982, I still have it on the shelf in my kitchen with more current titles. It was probably the second cookbook I ever bought and still one of my all-time favorites. That Chicken Marbella is legendary!
But I might have won my husband’s heart with that apple walnut cake. It was dense, sweet and chock full of apples and walnut pieces. I actually healthified it many years ago with whole wheat flour, coconut oil and sucanat, with delicious, but still decadent results. But lately I’ve been trying to limit the gluten and indulge in it when it counts (e.g. crusty bread, pizza). After the wildly successful grain-free chocolate zucchini cake (if you haven’t made that, you must!), I decided to do a twist on that and make a cinnamon apple version.
This apple cake is very different from the Silver Palate one, but my husband has also come around to a lighter, more healthful way of eating, especially since we hit 40. When he and the kids went crazy for this grain-free cake, I knew I had to teach it in my classes. It was a big hit there, too.
When September rolls around, it’s not only back to school, but apple season and the Jewish new year, too. This was the perfect week to post this recipe since this Sunday is the first night of Rosh Hashana. Even if you don’t celebrate the Jewish holidays this cake is a delicious treat in a lunch box or after dinner with a dusting of powdered sugar to make it look a little fancier. My husband loves pieces of walnuts or pecans in here, but my son preferred a version I tested with raisins. Either way, this is a more wholesome, clean cake than most out there and who can resist tender chunks of apple enveloped in a sweet and cinnamon-y cake? And you won’t know this is flour-free or grain-free. It tastes as good as “normal” cake no matter how you slice it.
It freezes beautifully and I found out that it even tastes great frozen after I tried to tuck some away so that I wouldn’t be tempted to eat it. Can someone please explain “self control” to me? Who eats frozen cake??? I am planning on making at least one of these for my Rosh Hashana luncheon next Monday and I know I won’t have to worry about leftovers.
unrefined coconut oil or unsalted butter for greasing pan
1 cup creamy, unsweetened, unsalted almond butter, raw or roasted (or use unsweetened sunflower butter for a nut-free cake)
⅓ cup pure Grade A maple syrup or raw honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon fine ground sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large apple, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼” cubes (about 1 ½ cups)*
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (or you could use raisins)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9-inch pan or an 8- or 9-inch round pan. If you want to remove the cake from the pan in one piece, line it with unbleached parchment paper as well. You do not have to grease the parchment paper.
In a large bowl combine the almond butter, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, egg, vanilla, and baking soda until smooth.
Stir in apple pieces and nuts or raisins.
Pour into prepared pan and bake until just set and a toothpick comes out clean or with dry crumbs. Do not overbake. A 9 x 9 pan will take 35-45 minutes. An 8 x 8 pan will take 40-50 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.
I like the chunks of apple in the cake, but you can also use 1½ cups of shredded, peeled apples (about 2-3 medium apples.)
I just took stock of my pantry because baking season has officially begun. It started slowly with a few batches of cookie dough for back to school lunches. Then Mr. Picky’s birthday rolled around last week and whoosh it’s Rosh Hashana this Wednesday night already! I don’t need to tell you what is just around the corner, do I?
Thankfully, I share the Jewish holiday cooking with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. We each host a meal and cook whatever we want. I have the first day of Rosh Hashana lunch, as well as the break fast on Yom Kippur evening. The break fast is actually one of my favorite holidays to host because people literally starve themselves for 24 hours (no water either!) and then come to my house to eat. I could basically serve anything and it would be a hit!
One of the nice traditions of the Jewish new year is eating seasonal foods. Love that! Apples are likely the most important food along with honey which symbolize the hope of a sweet year ahead. I have been loving the new crops of local apples flooding the markets over the past month. My kids particularly love Honeycrisp, Pink Lady (my personal fave), Granny Smith. I use apples all over the place at this time of year — turned into applesauce, sautéed on top of pancakes and waffles, cooked into oatmeal, chopped in salads and folded into simple snacking cakes like this one.
I saw a recipe a few years back for a Depression era chocolate cake called “Wacky Cake.” The cake didn’t use any “expensive” ingredients like eggs, milk or butter and I think got it’s name “wacky” because somehow the crazy recipe actually produced a moist, delicious cake. There are a gajillion recipes for the classic chocolate Wacky Cake, but last year I decided to put a twist on the (vegan) recipe and use apples and spices instead. Delicious!
The result was a moist, fragrant and just sweet enough little cake that I think is just perfect for after school snacks, lunch box treats, brunch or anytime you need a seasonal dessert for a fall gathering, like Rosh Hashana!! I make some sort of apple dessert every year for my luncheon, but I am very fond of this one because it is so darn easy and it freezes amazingly well. It is also pretty clean: whole grain flour, minimal amount of unrefined coconut sugar, and very little oil (I use unrefined coconut oil.) My entire family loves it!
You can do different things with this easy cake. You can double the recipe and bake the cakes in 9-inch round pans for a 2-layer cake. I would use this vegan frosting or a classic cream cheese frosting to go between the two cakes and on top. If you don’t like raisins, leave them out. Or instead of placing the walnuts halves on the top of the cake, chop them up and fold them into the batter. Or make this into muffins. For my do-aheaders, make this today and freeze it for the upcoming holiday (Rosh Hashana, Halloween, Thanksgiving — GASP!) If you are celebrating the new year this week, may it be a sweet one!
1 ¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour or whole spelt flour
½ cup coconut palm sugar or brown sugar or cane sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon cloves (optional)
¼ cup melted coconut oil or unsalted butter (not vegan)
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup water
½ cup orange juice*
1 large apple, peeled, cored and diced, about 1 cup
½ cup unsulphured raisins (optional)
16 raw walnut halves, if desired
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. You can grease your pan with coconut oil or butter and line it with unbleached parchment paper if you want to remove it from the pan to serve it. Otherwise, no greasing necessary if you will cut pieces from the pan to serve.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Make a well (indentation) in the flour mixture.
Pour the coconut oil, vinegar, vanilla, water and orange juice in the well and stir until everything is just combined. Do not overmix!
Fold in diced apple pieces and raisins.
Pour batter into pan and smooth out top. If you want, evenly space walnut pieces over batter. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
*Or use all water and up the coconut sugar to ⅔ cup. You can also add diced dates.
I had no intention of posting this recipe today because I already have a muesli recipe on my site. But that was from so, so long ago and I know I don’t even remember what I posted on this site back in the beginning so I don’t expect you to! Plus this one is better and ironically I made it up on the spot. I threw this muesli together on a whim on Sunday night because 1. it’s my favorite summer breakfast, 2. Mr. Picky was starting day camp on Monday and I needed one less thing to do in the morning, 3. it has actually been very warm and summerlike here in Manhattan Beach which never happens in the summer, just in September and October when everyone has gone back to school and resumed soccer on the weekends, and 4. I was a little naughty this holiday weekend which involved a homemade cherry pie, a new favorite rosé (did you see my instagram?) and some (a lot of?) mozzarella. Ooops. And that was after 9 days at my parents’ house which always involves too much pasta, pizza, wine and mozzarella.
I always say breakfast will set the tone for the rest of the day’s eating, so you want to start off right, eat a good breakfast. I had a good sized bowl of this muesli with some blueberries in the morning at 7:30 after a quick workout and then a little green tea at about 10:00 and I was completely fine until lunch at 1:00. That just about never happens. I am usually looking for a snack of some kind around 10:00 or 10:30. If you have issues with sugar and sweets, try making this without any added sweetener or add a couple drops of stevia. Of course, feel free to sub your favorite nut or seed for the hazelnuts and any good unsulphured fruit for the golden raisins (remember: sulphur dioxide is a preservative for dried fruit and it is not healthy for you, especially for people who have sensitive lungs.)
I actually think this muesli tastes more like the ones I have had a hotels both in the states and in Europe. Although it is not technically the original bircher muesli which uses condensed milk (eeek!), it is very similar in taste and texture. In my previous muesli, I used yogurt, water and orange juice to soak the oats with a little lemon zest. Decidedly citrusy, which I love, but not necessarily uber authentic. This one I used half almond milk and half kefir, although a nice think yogurt like Straus Family Creamery would be just as ideal. (Did you know Trader Joe’s European style yogurt IS Straus?!?) I still add shredded green apple which is a must, but for this batch I also included golden raisins and chopped hazelnuts and I was in heaven. Yum, yum, and YUM! Creamy, crunchy, lightly sweet. Perfect. I am dreaming of being in a European hotel for breakfast. And then I had to take Mr. Picky and his buddy to baseball camp. Wake up!
2 apples, unpeeled, grated (I like using green apples)
juice of half a small lemon
juice of half an orange
1 ½ - 1⅔ cups unsweetened almond milk (click here for instructions on how to make your own)
1 ½ - 1⅔ cups unsweetened kefir or yogurt
½ cup unsulphured golden raisins or dried fruit of choice
⅔ cup chopped hazelnuts
Toppings: fresh berries or sliced bananas, extra chopped nuts, raw honey or maple syrup
The night before: In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients, except toppings, in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning: add sweetener to taste, if necessary. Divide the muesli among four bowls and top with favorite nuts or fruits.
Keeps for several days covered in the refrigerator.
I don't sweeten this ahead of time because I prefer it unsweetened. Since my kids like a little honey, they add it to their own bowls in the morning. But feel free to add 2 Tablespoons or so of honey or your sweetener of choice.
Oh, I know your Thanksgiving menu is probably planned and I think that is great! I actually had no intention of trying to convince you today, this late in the game, that you absolutely must include such and such recipe on your holiday table. I know you’re committed and that’s that. But for the rest of you slackers, it’s your lucky day! This is your Thanksgiving salad. Period. I have taught it umpteen times already this month, with another class to go and I am more obsessed with it than ever. I think this salad actually makes turkey taste better!! Make some room on that menu!
Delicata squash should be nicknamed “THE Thanksgiving squash” because it’s seasonal, adorable, and minimal work. You don’t peel it! You eat the skin! It tastes amazing! How much do you love me right now? Forget butternut squash this year. Give yourself a break and go with delicata. I have no idea if you can find it where you live, but in Southern California it’s all over the place at every supermarket, farmers market and Trader Joe’s. Sometimes it’s off-white with yellow stripes, sometimes pale yellow with orange and lots of in-betweens.
As much as I love delicata squash, my favorite part of this salad just might be the big wedges of roasted apples. Pink Ladies are my favorite and I think are perfect here, but Honeycrisp, Fuji, Jonagold are all great, too. Granny Smith is a little too tart in my opinion. Leave the peel on to not only make your life easier, but I think the apples look prettier that way and hold their shape better.
Here’s your game plan for this salad:
make the dressing this weekend and store in a glass jar with a lid in the refrigerator
wash and dry your salad greens on Tuesday and store in the refrigerator
if you are using nuts or pumpkin seeds, toast them Tuesday and store at room temperature
wash, seed and cut delicata squash into slices on Wednesday and store in a container or ziploc in the refrigerator
shave Manchego cheese with a vegetable peeler and store in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container
Thursday morning you can roast the delicate squash and apples and take the dressing out of the refrigerator to bring to room temp; store cooked squash and apples at room temp until dinnertime
right before carving the turkey, assemble and dress the salad!
Toppings: shaved manchego cheese, ½ cup buttered and salted toasted pecans or toasted, salted pumpkin seeds
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place the squash and apples in a large bowl and add the melted coconut oil and 1 Tablespoon maple syrup. Toss to coat. (You can also add the apples to the salad raw instead of roasted.)
Place the apples and squash in one layer on the baking sheets and sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper. Roast until tender, approximately 20-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
For the dressing: in a small bowl or screw top jar combine apple cider vinegar, olive oil, Dijon, salt, pepper and maple syrup and whisk or shake to combine. You may have more dressing than you need for this recipe.
Place salad greens on a platter and toss with enough dressing to coat lightly. Separately drizzle the squash and apples with some dressing and add to the greens. Sprinkle with any desired toppings. Taste for salt and pepper and serve.
Huh??? What is an apple-dipped pancake? I know. It’s really the silliest name, but I didn’t want to call these beauties “apple pancakes” because that makes me think of something that these are not. These are better than just dropping a few pieces of diced apple into pancake batter or using apple cider instead of milk. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. These are literally slices of apple dipped in pancake batter and then cooked so there’s a tender apple slice nestled inside the pancake. Beyond delicious!!! The first time I made these, Mr. Picky asked, “Mom, I can’t figure out how you got the apple in there.” And then he ate six. And then I ate six. And so did everyone else in the kitchen because they all woke up to the house smelling like apple cinnamon doughnuts. Deep inhale. Can you imagine that? Heaven.
Here’s the deal — even though I am sharing a fantastic spelt pancake batter with you that is perfection with apple slices, you can dip apples into whatever pancake batter you like. Just add a little cinnamon and nutmeg so you get that apple pie thing going on. The only trick is to slice your apples just so. Not too thick or they’ll stay crunchy in the middle. But not too thin or you’ll have a hard time dipping them into the batter without breaking. You can use a skewer or a toothpick to dip them in and out, but I found my fingers to be perfectly fine for the task.
My husband observed that these pancakes hold their heat longer because of the apples. So you can make a whole bunch at once and have them ready for everyone for breakfast. I know you may think these are impossible on a weekday, but if you start making your pancake batter the night before , these are a snap in the morning!
I feel like whining. Nooooo, I don’t waaaaaaant school to start tomorrow. I have to wake up so eaaaarrrrrly. Ugggh. And lunnnnnnches. Ok. I’m done. Thanks for listening.
I think making breakfast, lunch and dinner during the school year is hard. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a competition on a Food Network show. Minutes to spare. Limited ingredients. Tough judges. The pressure! The fact is that I cannot wing it when school starts. To feed my family and myself real food as much as possible, I need a plan. I have one child leaving at 6:35 am, another at 7:20 am and my youngest leaves at 8:00 am. To all of you who can pull together breakfast, lunch and dinner without so much as a list, I am in awe of you. I consider myself a culinary quasi-professional and I cannot wake up on a Monday morning and open the fridge and say, “Hmmmm. What should I make today?” It stresses me out just thinking about doing that.
Every Sunday night for 18 years, I have planned my meals for the week and I shop accordingly. And every year I do one new thing to help me get a little better organized because every year my family seems to throw me a new challenge. This year I think I’m going to do a breakfast schedule so I don’t have to think so much about that meal when I’m making my list.
I will always have homemade granola in the pantry, yogurt and nut butters in the fridge, stuff to make smoothies, and fresh fruit on the counter. If one of the kids doesn’t want what I’ve made that day and chooses to make his or her own breakfast, I’ll believe it when I see it that would be lovely. Here’s a previous post with more breakfast ideas.
I’ve been making this slow cooker oatmeal for the last year and I couldn’t wait for it to be apple season again so I could share it with you. We all love it! Love! It tastes like you stirred apple pie filling into your oats. I like steel cut oats because they are so hearty and they take a little longer for your body to digest than rolled oats, so you get a longer-lasting energy. There’s nothing wrong with making plain and simple oats for breakfast and setting out a bunch of delicious toppings, but this is so easy and it’s ready when you come into the kitchen in the morning. Nothing else you need to do. We love it as is, but if you don’t like raisins, you can leave them out. But I encourage you to try it with the raisins because they plump up so beautifully and add a little extra sweetness to the oats. You can also add more sweetener than I do, but again, try this as is because you can always add extra sweetener later.
If you don’t have a slow cooker, I have a post in the archives for stovetop overnight steel cut oats. You bring everything up to a boil on the stovetop the night before, cover and turn off the heat. I repeat, turn off the heat. In the morning, just warm through and your oats will be perfect in a few minutes. I don’t see why you couldn’t do this with this recipe. And of course, you can do this the traditional way on the stovetop as well. Just dump everything into the pot and cook. No excuses on this one!!
I wish all of you an excellent beginning of school!
1 cup steel cut oats (use certified gluten-free oats for GF oatmeal)
4 cups water
2 apples, peeled, cored, & cut into bite size pieces
2 Tablespoons maple syrup (you can use any sweetener you want)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of salt
¼ cup raisins
Place the steel cut oats, water, apples, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and raisins into a slow cooker and cook on LOW heat for 5 hours. Actually, anywhere between 4 and 6 hours is fine. Most slow cookers have an automatic “WARM” setting so after it cooks, it will stay warm until you’re ready for it.
Stir well to combine before serving. I like to finish my oatmeal with a little homemade almond milk to thin it out a little. Yum!
I know it's tempting to leave the peel on the apples, but after they cook, the apples get soft and the peel stays tough. Not so fun to eat! To make this on the stovetop, see the last paragraph above.