Not all pumpkin recipes have to be sweet! This Roasted Pumpkin Fondue is an old recipe from Gourmet Magazine that I made back in the day but shelved it because it was too rich and heavy. My friend Katie Morford lightened it up and it’s even better than the original version! Think soft and gooey cheese on the inside with cubes of whatever bread you like + tender pumpkin. It’s comforting and delicious and could be a full meal with a simple salad on the side. After shooting this with an amazing dark multi-grain, seeded bread, I realized that a lighter color bread looks more appetizing. But this tasted phenomenal!Continue reading
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
My grandparents had a cute place in the Pocono mountains when I was growing up. We would go for a week in the summer and occasionally for a long weekend during Thanksgiving and Presidents’ weekend. Summers were the best though, because we were always outside playing badminton or bocce on the bocce alley my grandfather built. Or picking wild blackberries until our arms were scratched from top to bottom.
My grandmother, my aunt and my mother would go to the market every day it seemed. I swear we weren’t done with breakfast before my grandmother nervously asked, “Ok, now what are we doing about lunch?” Everything revolved around food and mealtime. “Don’t go out now or you’ll be late for supper!” “What time does everyone want to eat?” “What should we make tonight for dinner?” And so on. Now that I direct mealtime at my parents’ house in the summer when I visit, I sort of see the obsession. You can’t just wing it when you’re feeding a crowd and it’s no picnic when you’ve got hungry kids (or adults!)
I always loved everything the ladies cooked, but there was a special dessert that my uncle used to make that blew my mind. He would take the leftover espresso from the morning and dissolve sugar into it and a little water and freeze the whole thing. In between bocce matches, he would go to the freezer and scrape the mixture into slushy, icy bits. He called it granita di caffe. It was like coffee ice, but we actually made it at home without any fancy machinery and it was delicious! Of course I couldn’t have too much because I was like 7 years old, so eventually he made us children granita di limone, lemon ice. It was like a lemonade slushy. Heaven.
I had a dinner party over the weekend and because the weather is still warm where I live, I decided to try an apple granita for dessert. WINNER!!! Talk about the easiest, tasty, fresh, light, seasonal dessert. It was also perfect because two of my girlfriends are dairy-free. If you can imagine a light and crispy apple slushy ice infused with fall spices, this is apple granita. I also had a granita sundae bar set up so we could layer the granita with caramel ice cream, crushed gingersnap cookies and dehydrated apple slices. Just so good and did I mention easy? Plus I did it a few days ahead and you know how much I love getting things done early.
What I love about granita is that it seems like a special dessert, but it’s really so easy you could make it for your kids for an after school snack, which I did for Mr. Picky yesterday. He freaked out! And when I told him I made it by myself without a machine, he started making all sorts of plans for future granitas, like Gatorade granita. Creative, but not happening of course. Just a dollop of whipped cream on top and some crushed gingersnaps made Mr. Picky forget about everything else for a bit. Just like when I was a kid.
3 cups natural-style apple juice, preferably organic
6-8 Tablespoons Grade A maple syrup or cane sugar
1 ½ Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch ground allspice
In a saucepan, combine all of the ingredients and cook over moderate heat, whisking until the sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes. Do this step even if you are using a liquid sweetener as the heat will enhance the flavors of the spices.
Pour mixture into an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish. Freeze until icy around the edges, about an hour.
Using a fork, scrape the icy shards into the center. Continue to freeze, scraping occasionally and smashing any large lumps until coarse crystals form, about 3-4 hours longer. The end result should be a fluffy, coarse You can also use a large baking dish and the process will go more quickly. Keep frozen until ready to serve. The granita can be made a week in advance.
There are probably other sweeteners that you can use, but I only tested the recipe with maple syrup and cane sugar. I thought the recipe was a tad too sweet with ½ cup of sugar, but my friends thought it was perfect. If you tend to prefer desserts that are not too sweet, then use the lower amount of sugar/syrup.
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 love teaching people how to cook and I love working with food, but one business I don’t see myself in is the restaurant business. That just seems like waaaaaay too much work! But if I did open a restaurant, I would have a little casual breakfast and lunch place called “He Said, She Said.” The menu would be split down the middle with dude food on one side and lady food on the other.
I’ve seen plenty of women eat just as much as a man and I am one of them. BUT it’s the food choices that men and women make that I find so interesting, and different. My husband and I are the perfect example. We have been married for almost 19 years and I don’t think we’ve ever ordered the same thing in a restaurant. And I can usually predict what he will get!
I tend to graviate towards salads, vegetable-based dishes, lentils, beans, and ethnic foods and away from things that are fried, greasy and heavily sauced. He, on the other hand, will order anything with melted cheese and/or lots of tomato sauce plus a side of fries or onion rings. My husband is a meat-guy too, and doesn’t think about how he’s going to get his veggies at every meal.
Since I do all the cooking in our house, I tend to make what I like. However, when it’s my husband’s birthday or Father’s Day, I will think about his favorites and go that direction. Father’s Day is coming up, on Sunday, June 15th to be exact. And even though I would prefer a veggie frittata or a yogurt and homemade granola parfait, I know my husband would be THRILLED if I bought him doughnuts. But since doughnuts are probably one of the worst possible foods you can eat, there is no way in the world that I would ever give them to someone with whom I would like to grow old. I hate to be a party pooper, but doughnuts are completely non-nutritive, full of empty calories, high in simple carbohydrates which spike your blood sugar and are deep fried in the most damaged pro-inflammatory fat EVER. So not good.
I will, however, make baked doughnuts with some higher quality (but I didn’t say healthful) ingredients. They still taste delicious and won’t put anyone in a sugar coma afterwards! Yippee! I am giving you plenty of time to order this doughnut pan because unfortunately you can’t make doughnuts without a doughnut pan. I like this one the best because it is coated with silicone for a nonstick finish that doesn’t leach like toxic PFTE’s and PFOA’s. You can also scoop the batter with an mini ice cream scoop into mini muffin pans for doughnut holes.
I recommend making these the day you want to eat them and I am partial to serving these alongside a hearty, high fiber and high protein breakfast and not alone because even though they are significantly better for you than traditional doughnuts, they’re not health food! I kept these pretty simple with a cinnamon-sugar topping, but if you really wanted to throw in the towel, you could go for a glaze instead. Fun!
⅓ cup whole milk or milk substitute, at room temperature
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour or whole spelt flour*
½ cup all-purpose flour or white spelt flour
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (do not omit – this is the secret ingredient of all cake doughnuts!)
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted + extra butter for greasing the pan
¼ cup cane sugar
2 Tablespoons honey
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 Tablespoons cane sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or less cinnamon for a more “authentic” ratio)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease the wells of the doughnut pan with some butter.
In a glass measuring cup, mix together milk and vinegar and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 5 minutes to curdle.
In a large bowl whisk together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter, sugar, honey, egg, vanilla and curdled milk.
Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients, taking care not to overmix.
Spoon batter evenly into wells of the doughnut pan, filling only ⅔ full.* If filled too high, there won’t be any doughnut holes. Another way to fill the wells is by transferring the batter to a quart-size Ziploc bag and snipping one corner ½inch and piping the batter into the wells. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until doughnuts spring back when pressed lightly. Allow to cool 5 minutes before turning doughnuts onto a cooling rack.
While the doughnuts are still warm, combine the 2 Tablespoons cane sugar with the teaspoon of cinnamon in a shallow bowl. Brush the tops (or bottoms) of the doughnuts with melted butter and dip into the cinnamon–sugar mixture so that it sticks. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.
*Or substitute a total of 1 cup King Arthur Multi-purpose Gluten-free Flour and ½ teaspoon xanthan gum for the white and wheat flours
**Or bake in a greased mini-muffin pan for doughnut holes.
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.
I guess this is favorites week. In my last post, I went on and on about my obsession with summer tomatoes and today I am sharing my new favorite dessert which uses my favorite fruit bar none, peaches. Smiley face. Peaches make me happy and this season has not disappointed so far. We have had the best peaches this summer and although I may not have eaten one every single day like I have tomatoes, it has been close.
I could make a meal out of a big peach. Ok, not really. But everything else I eat afterwards just pales in comparison. I really love yellow peaches, which I find have a more intense, although more acidic flavor. The white ones are delicious, of course, and slightly more sweet but just not quite as flavorful. But trust me, I’ll eat either any day. I always buy organic peaches since conventionally grown ones are on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list of the most highly contaminated produce. I think it’s because the pesticides are able to permeate peaches’ thin skin thereby making it difficult to remove toxins by washing. Pesticides make me nervous.
I have so many regular peach recipes, some that I’ve taught in my classes like peach pie, grilled vanilla peaches and this fabulous individual warm peach pie in a jar number I am writing about today. This month I will teach an arugula salad with farro and peaches that is my new favorite. Did you see that crazy delicious breakfast I posted on Facebook a month ago? Why aren’t we friends on Facebook? You’re missing out. I post something interesting there every single day! I digress. I used some leftovers from this recipe and put it on top of Bob’s Red Mill warm, creamy buckwheat porridge. People, I was like “shut the front door.” Best. Breakfast. Ever.
I have a dozen other peach recipes that I’m not posting here so let’s not even torture you with those. Let’s talk about these individual peach pie in a jar thingies that are the quickest, tastiest healthful dessert you can’t believe you haven’t ever made until now. I was inspired by a recipe I saw over at Roost, which is one of the prettiest blogs that mine will never look like. Sigh. Caitlin used apples, which I tried and thought turned out delish, but this peach version is crazy delish.
Too many of you have expressed intimidation about making a pie from scratch and I get it. Although for me, sometimes I just don’t have the time to prepare and bake a pie, especially if I’m entertaining and I am making a bunch of other things. Or maybe I have a craving for peach pie and I don’t want to tempt myself with an entire pie in the kitchen. I am weak, after all.
This is your answer. You make these amazing buttered, salted pecans which you then crumble up and put on the bottom of a cute glass jar, preferably with a wide opening at the top. Then you sauté some chopped peaches with a little honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and the tiniest amount of almond extract possible because like I’ve said before, almond extract makes peach and apricot desserts more peachy and apricot-y. But it has to be the teeniest amount otherwise, whoa. And then just when the peaches are warm, you spoon them on top of the pecans. I am totally serious. But see how not-at-all-bad-for-you this is?? See why I can eat this in the morning and at night? See why I was giving out small portions at my classes so there would be more for me? Weak, I tell you.
Serves: 6-7, depending on the size of your glasses or jars. I've used half-pint and pint jars. You don't have to use jars or glasses, but it looks so pretty that way.
Butter Pecan Crust:
3 cups raw pecans
1 ½ Tablespoons unsalted butter or unrefined coconut oil
¾ teaspoon sea salt (this is not a misprint)
Peach Pie Filling:
8 cups chopped peaches (peeled or unpeeled), about 12 small-medium peaches
2 Tablespoons butter, ghee or unrefined coconut oil
2 Tablespoons honey (just eyeball it since it’s such a pain to measure)
⅛ teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
¼ cup almond flour (if necessary to thicken juices)
Have ready 6 clean ½ pint or pint jars.
To make the crust, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a small sheet pan with parchment paper. Melt the butter in a small (1-2 quart) saucepan, turn off the heat and add the pecans. Toss to coat.
Pour the buttered pecans onto the sheet pan and sprinkle with ¾ teaspoon salt. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Watch closely so they don’t burn! Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
Place the cooled pecans into a food processor and pulse a couple times to form a coarse crumbly mixture. Place a couple tablespoons of “crust” into the bottom of each jar and set aside.
To make the filling, in a large bowl, toss the peaches with the honey, extract, and spices. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the peach mixture to the skillet and toss gently to heat through, 2-4 minutes.
Turn off the heat and if the mixture is very liquidy, add the almond flour to the peaches and stir to combine.
Place several spoonfuls of the peach pie mixture on top of the pecan crust and top with crème fraiche, whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or whipped coconut cream. Also delicious for breakfast on warm porridge or with yogurt. Serve immediately!
If you are nut-free, you can still make the peaches alone or serve them over crumbled cookies, like graham crackers or gingersnaps.