The goal here is to, yes, teach you how to make the most popular Sicilian pasta con le sarde dish, but also to introduce you to sardines. Sardines are very overlooked because people have no idea what they are and assume they’re going to be fishy and gross. Or people confuse them with anchovies which are VERY different. Like anything, there are options when it comes to sardines – fresh from the fish market or cooked and packed in water or olive oil, with skin or skinless, with bones or boneless, plain or smoked. They do not contain mercury, are loaded with anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fats and they are very inexpensive. I prefer the boneless, skinless ones packed in oil. If you prefer, you can swap in jarred tuna or canned salmon for the sardines in this recipe. Or vice versa – swap sardines in for canned tuna!
This is NOT a pasta dish that is typically served with cheese. But I’m not in charge of what you eat, so you do you. If you want to cut the quantity of pasta in half and swap in zucchini noodles, I approve!
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?!
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.
Larabars were one of the first snack bars that I remember buying. There are no scary ingredients, no added sugars or colors, just dates and nuts. I liked having them for the kids in my diaper bag, as a snack for the plane when we traveled, and more recently for all-day soccer tournaments in the middle of Taco Bell-land. I don’t know why it never occurred to me that I could actually make them in my own kitchen. Without a special Larabar machine! And when I finally realized how disappointingly easy these are to make, I really wanted to hit myself over the head. And I could have been making them organic to boot!
I had so much fun teaching these bars in my classes last month. Once I revealed the secret ratio of dates to nuts (1:1 !), we came up with lots of interesting combinations of ingredients and shapes. The most important ingredient is something sticky to hold it all together. Usually Larabars contain dried dates, which you might remember are one of my obsessions! But I had success making bars out of raisins and dried cherries, too. Are we having fun yet?! Then take your pick of a nut or seed — I use either almonds, cashews, pecans or sunflower seeds. You can make a Larabar with just dates and nuts if you want. Or you can add some yummy things like chocolate, cacao powder, cinnamon, candied ginger, coconut, peppermint extract, instant coffee powder and so on and so forth. Are your wheels spinning?
These are very yummy, but let’s keep it under control and limit ourselves to one for a snack and not the whole delicious batch. After all, you wouldn’t sit down and eat 14 dates just because. I also wouldn’t use these as a meal replacement because they generally have under 200 calories which ain’t enough for anyone. Larabars get bonus points with me because you can make them in approximately 5 minutes and they last for a heck of a long time in the refrigerator or freezer.
I thought it would be great to post this “recipe” now because Easter and Passover are coming up. Larabars are a great Passover snack because there’s nothing not kosher for Passover in them, unless you use peanuts. I think making them in the shape of a traditional Larabar is great, but you can also make little mini squares, or shape them into small, flat discs like a cookie, or a little round ball like a truffle. And then I went to Michael’s and bought lollipop sticks and made…Laralollipops!! How cute would these be for Easter? Dip them in chocolate if you have to! I’ve given three different combinations here, but you can really make up your own according to what you like. Or go over to the official Larabar site and copy some of their flavors. Just don’t tell them I sent you!
1 ¼ cup dried, unsweetened dates (about 14), pitted
1 ¼ cup whole raw almonds, cashews or pecans
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder or raw cacao powder
¼ cup semi-sweet MINI chocolate chips or shredded unsweetened coconut (optional)
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup unsulphured raisins (or dried cherries for an oatmeal cherry bar)
¾ cup rolled oats (not quick cooking or instant)
¾ cup raw cashews or pecans
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
⅛ teaspoon salt
The easy way to do this is to place all of the ingredients (except chocolate chips) in a food processor and process until the mixture comes together in a tight ball (about 2 ½ minutes). Everything will be really finely processed. See the lollipop images for what that looks like. Or if you want a little more texture from the nuts, process the nuts and dates separately and mix them in a bowl with the remaining ingredients. See the other images for examples of that.
The chocolate chips can be added at the end and mixed in with your hands.
Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and transfer the ball to the plastic wrap and press down to start to flatten into a rectangle. Fold the excess plastic over the top and use your hands to shape and flatten the mixture until it is about ½” thick, about 9” across and 3” down. Or make whatever shape you want!
Refrigerate for a couple hours until firm and slice as desired. Keep wrapped in the refrigerator. Or transfer unwrapped bars to a tightly sealed container.
You can also do a Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar: 1 ¼ cups pitted dates + 1 cup roasted, salted peanuts. Sometimes I add 2 Tablespoons of Maca powder and a pinch of salt with or without a few mini chocolate chips.
I have been consistently making Monday our meatless night, although I often have another vegetarian dinner during the week as well. This week I was excited to cook something with one of the many winter squashes I have bought recently. I taught this vegan butternut squash and chickpea stew last February and I was waiting for the change in seasons to make it again. As opposed to most stews, this one doesn’t take hours to cook and was perfect for a busy weeknight. Actually, I was so busy on Monday that I had to serve it with white basmati rice instead of brown rice (nobody’s perfect!) I also made a delicious kale salad with avocados, pomegranates and sliced almonds. It was the perfect meal for me. I also love this stew because it can be made the day before and reheated, or made earlier in the afternoon and left on the stove, off the heat, until dinner time.
I was really delighted that my son, also known as, but soon to be formerly known as, Mr. Picky, ate everything on his plate (kale, chickpeas, carrots, onions, rice) except the butternut squash. This is major progress and I am very encouraged by how far he has come since the days not too long ago when he wouldn’t have eaten a single bite of this stew. Small steps, but they all get there eventually.
This stew has a little bit of a Moroccan kick to it. I used really flavorful (and anti-inflammatory) spices like turmeric, ginger, coriander and a little cayenne. The cayenne gives it just enough heat, but not too much that you would think this is spicy. I think this would be delicious for a Halloween dinner, whether you are entertaining or just filling everyone up before trick-or-treating. That’s my strategy, you know. I don’t prohibit the kids from eating a little candy on Halloween night, but I give them a nice hearty, substantial dinner so they’re not hungry when they leave the house. Pretty tricky, Mom!
2 Tablespoons unrefined coconut oil or olive oil (I use coconut oil and I really like Barlean’s)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt + extra for seasoning at the end
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground turmeric (feel free to add more if you like it)
½ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
3 cups 1-inch cubes of peeled butternut squash (about 1 ½ pounds)
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into ¾-inch pieces
1 pound fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced or 14 ounces boxed, drained
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
a handful of golden raisins or currants
1 cup chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 1 minute or until fragrant.
Add salt, pepper and all spices to the onions. Sauté for a minute.
Add the squash and carrots and toss to coat with the spices.
Add tomatoes, lemon juice, chickpeas, raisins and stock/water. Bring to a boil and cover. Lower the heat and simmer over low or medium/low heat until squash is tender and flavors have melded, about 40 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add extra salt and pepper as desired.
Feel free to stir some spinach or chopped chard leaves in at the end. Delicious served over quinoa, millet, rice, spaghetti squash or couscous.
I was married almost 17 years ago, so I guess it’s not crazy that my husband would have forgotten what flavor our wedding cake was. I’m just surprised, because he was very involved in all decisions. I know you’re thinking that it sounds sweet to have your fiance interested enough in your wedding to have a say in everything, but trust me, kind of annoying. Regardless, we were talking about our wedding cake the other day and my husband remembers it as carrot cake, which it was certainly not. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with carrot cake for a wedding cake, but ours was a simple white cake with chocolate chocolate-chip buttercream filling.
He probably thinks it was carrot cake because we both love it so much. And we both agree that carrot cake should be moist and dense and chock full of carrots and raisins and walnuts. I remember many a date when we shared a large slice of carrot cake for dessert. You know the kind. Two or three layers of sweet, nubby cake sandwiched between even sweeter, creamy, tangy icing. Sounds great until you learn that a huge piece of bakery or restaurant carrot cake contains about a entire day’s worth of calories. And don’t think they’re using natural sweeteners, friends. If I were 22 again and doing two hours of step aerobics every day, I could probably get away with it. But not no more!
Fast forward two decades later when at least one of us is trying to consume desserts in moderation and bake them with less refined ingredients so we can make it to our 50th wedding anniversary and beyond. Yes, that’s why I make carrot cake in a 13 x9-inch baking dish instead of as a layer cake. I think it’s super delicious too, but for me at least, one square is plenty. And before you think I’m no fun at all, don’t think I’m skimping on flavor here. This carrot cake delivers the same sweet, spiced goodness that you would expect from the traditional. Ok, maybe not the same sweetness. When I got motivated to come up with a higher quality carrot cake, I went to my trusty Ina, who uses a whopping 2 cups of sugar in her cake. Although in her defense, so does everyone else. In my recipe I use coconut palm sugar and much less of it. Listen, there’s a whole pound of carrots in this cake and carrots are sweet. There are also raisins and even diced pineapple if you choose to use it. And even if you don’t frost this cake, it’s plenty sweet. Personally, I was happy as a clam with this cake unfrosted, but I knew my students would be expecting something more. Of course I couldn’t go with a typical cream cheese frosting, because they don’t come to my kitchen for that. So I am also offering you something very alternative, but perfectly yummy and thick and creamy and won’t make you sick to your stomach after you eat it. And it’s vegan!
I’m thinking with Father’s Day coming up, this would be a fun dessert to make. You can even do it in a muffin tin for individual cupcakes. There are lots of ways you can adapt this recipe to make everyone happy. Drop the pineapple if you wish. Use pecans instead of walnuts. Add some nutmeg or cloves. Make Ina Garten’s cream cheese frosting if you don’t believe me that this one is great. Just don’t ask me if you can make this cake without carrots because that question was already asked in my class last month and my answer is “no.” Instead you have my blessing to go make the white butter cake with chocolate chocolate-chip buttercream filling that you really want.
1 ¼-1 ½ cups unrefined oil (I use melted coconut oil, but olive or high-oleic safflower is fine, too)
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 ½ cups plus 1 Tablespoon whole wheat pastry flour, divided
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 cup unsulphured golden raisins (or dark raisins if you prefer)
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 pound carrots, shredded (about 4 cups)
½ cup fresh pineapple, finely chopped (or frozen, thawed)
Raw Cashew Frosting (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 13”x 9” pan.
Beat the sugar, oil and eggs together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until thick and sugar has dissolved a bit. Add the vanilla and stir to combine.
In another bowl, whisk together 2 ½ cups flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. In a small bowl, combine the raisins and walnuts with 1 Tablespoon of flour and add to batter. Fold in the carrots and pineapple and mix well.
Pour batter into pan. It should be super thick. Bake for 45–55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely in pan over a wire wrack.
If you like things very sweet, you can increase the sugar to 1½ cups and the recipe will work fine. I also give a range for the oil. Use 1¼ cup if you plan to eat it all the same day it's made and if you like a lighter cake. Use 1½ cups if you like it a little heavier and if you want it to cake to stay moist for several days. I used 1½ cups in these photos and 1¼ cups in my classes.
Raw Cashew Frosting:
This is a lovely, just-sweet-enough frosting which you can use for lots of cakes and cupcakes. It is dairy-free and if you use maple or agave, it is also vegan. You cannot substitute another oil for the coconut oil, since that’s what helps the frosting become firm and spreadable once it has been refrigerated. I use Grade A maple syrup here, which is less mapley than Grade B.
2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 5 hours
½ cup unsweetened almond milk or water (water is just as good)
¼ cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
3 Tablespoons raw honey, Grade A maple syrup or agave
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch or 2 of fine grain sea salt
Process all ingredients in a food processor, scraping down the sides if necessary, until perfectly smooth. This can take 5-6 minutes. Or use a high powered blender like a Vitamix for about 45 seconds. Refrigerate to allow it to firm up enough to a spreadable consistency. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.