Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mini Carrot Oat Flour Muffins (Gluten Free)

I seem to always be suffering from an upset stomach. A few years ago my doctor tested me for Celiac disease. It came back negative so I kept eating food with gluten in it, though I tried to keep it to a minimum. It was very clear to me when I ate food that had gluten in it the worse I felt. Needless to say I felt pretty bad by the 3rd day of Passover even though I had eaten only spelt matzoh. 

With the exception of a hamburger bun that I had with dinner the day after Passover ended I have been gluten free since Passover and I really feel great. Of course there are many reasons why this might be. I definitely am limited as to what I can eat but interestingly I am just not getting out of control hungry anymore. It's like gluten containing foods just set me off into a state where I can't stop eating until I am literally sick.

So far I have been doing a lot of experiments with almond flour but last week I decided to make carrot cake for dessert on Shabbat with gluten free oat flour and it was a big hit. I knew that if I made them into mini muffins they would make a good snack for school. If you store the muffins in the freezer they are good for a few weeks. You can just throw them into a bag in the morning and they will be defrosted by snack time. 

If you double the recipe you will have enough to make a cake in a 9" or 10" Bundt pan. You will need to bake the cake for 45 to 50 minutes.

2 mini muffin pans
1 and 1/2 cup of gluten free oat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups of sucanat 
3 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil or walnut oil (if you use extra virgin it will give the muffins a coconutty taste)
1 cup finely grated carrots
1/2 cup of crushed pineapple

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line or grease muffin pan

2. Combine the oat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a bowl and place aside

3. Combine the oil and sugar and then mix in the eggs. 

4. Add the dry ingredient and mix till they are fully combined.

5. Add the pineapple and carrots and mix till they are fully combined.

6. Put the batter in the pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Happy Passover!

It's been a long few weeks and I am definitely beat. The last week before Passover always seem so tough and there is still one day left of preparations  As usual this week has been filled with those pre-passover snafus that seem to happen every year. This year they included an accident that involved a coconut, my finger, a peeler and lots of blood and an Ikea cabinet in my kitchen (where I keep all of my Passover things) that suddenly started to recline to the left and is now being kept upright by a variety of heavy objects.

Its all good though.  Much easier than having to pack up your family and having to leave home with out even having enough time for your bread to rise.

I wanted to leave you with a quick thought that I heard this Shabbat from the assistant Rabbi of my Synagogue. The first 9 plagues the Hebrews witnessed passively  Be it blood, frogs or locusts,  G-d made them happen. The 10th plague was different though. In order to escape the death of the first born the Hebrews were told to mark their doors with the blood of the pascal lamb so the angel of death would pass over their homes. For the 10th pague the Hebrews had to actively participate. They had to opt in.

That is what the Seder is all about. It's about actively making a decision to be part of the Jewish people. It's about us opting in today. May everyone who is celebrating have a joyous Passover. Next year in Jerusalem!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Grain Free Apple Kugel (Kosher For Passover)

This is an easy apple kugel recipe that I make all year round. It can be served for either works for breakfast, a snack, a side dish or even dessert.

3 to 4 macintosh apples sliced.
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup of any kind of sugar (When it's passover I use turbinado or demarara and when it's not Passover I use sucanat or palm sugar)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Peel and slice apple and put them in a bowl of cold water.

3. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.

4. Beat the egg and add to the dry ingredients.

5. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.

6. Drain the apple and pat dry. Mix them into the batter.

7. Pour into an 8x8 pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until golden.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Passover Crafts: Locusts (Schistocerca gregaria)

Crafted Shcistocerca Gregaria

The real thing!

A few weeks ago there was a locust swarm in Egypt that spread to Israel.  The swarm was made up of the common Egyptian Desert Locust scientifically known as Schistocerca gregoria.  According to Jewish bugs are generally not kosher except for certain species of locusts. According to Jewish tradition this is one of the varieties that are kosher.

When I read about the swarm I knew I had to make some locusts this year. We have made a bunch of different ones in all sorts of different color combos using the same technique. My favorites, though, are our interpretation of Schistocerca gregaria.

Newspaper to paint on
Wine corks
Acrylic paint in the colors you want to make your locust in
Paint brushes
Pipe cleaners
Tissue paper
Glue gun or Tacky Glue
Wiggly eyes
Tulip Puffy Fabric paint or a black Sharpy for the mouth.

1. Paint the cork. Leave the bottom of the cork unpainted so the cork will not stick to the paper when drying. When the cork is dry flip it over and paint the bottom.

2. Cut two 3 inch pieces of pipe cleaner for the front legs, one 7 inch piece of pipe cleaner for the back legs and one 5 inch piece for the antennas. 

3. Mold the middle of the pieces around the cork so that they fit properly when they are glued down. Then finish molding the different parts into their final shapes.

4. Cut out two 4 by 4 inch squares of tissue paper. If you are making the Schistoceria gregoria paint the wing makings on the tissue paper.

5. If you are not adding markings or when the paint is dry hold the tissue paper square at one corner and pinch the paper toward the opposite corner to form the wings.

6. When the painted cork is dry assemble the locust starting with the legs and antena. Using either the glue gun or the Tacky Glue place a thin line of glue about 1 inch long where you wants the pipe cleaners placed. FYI the front two legs are close together on the front and the long third pair of legs is placed towards the back.

7. When the pipe cleaners are dry add the wiggly eyes, mouth and wings. 

Note: The tissue paper is delicate so you may want to eliminate the wings for younger kids.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pecan and Coconut Crusted Chicken (Kosher for Passover)

This is another schnitzel like option for Passover. The combination of pecan, coconut and cinnamon is just delicious and will definitely be a staple of this household for the whole year.

8 ounces raw pecans
1 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
2 eggs
About 8 boneless chicken breast
Extra virgin coconut oil to grease the pans with

1. Ground the pecans in the food processor medium to fine

2. Combine the pecans, coconut, cinnamon, salt and pepper on a plate

3. Beat eggs in a bowl.

4. Dip the chicken in the eggs let the extra run off for a few seconds and the coat in the pecan mixture.

5. Bake in the oven at 375 for about 30 to 40 minutes depending on the size of the breasts.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Passover Crafts: Frog Finger Puppets

The 10 Plagues are a big part of Passover for kids. They are absolutely fascinated by them and they really help them to connect to the holiday. I clearly remember my kids coming home from school when they were little and singing a song about the Frogs that went like this:

One morning when Pharoah woke in his bed
There were frogs in his bed and frogs on his head
Frogs on his nose and frogs on his toes
Frogs here, frogs there, frogs were jumping everywhere
Even in his underwear (This line is not actually taught in school but passed down though the generation by older siblings)

Having a few physical examples of the 10 Plagues at your seder is a great way to keep the kids engaged. These frogs are easy to make and I think they are also very cute. T10 made the one on the left all by herself. I know that D7 could make this with a little bit of supervision and I'm sure that even younger kids would be capable of doing this with some help from a grown up!

Green felt
Black embroidery thread
Googaly eyes
Tacky glue or a hot glue gun
Pattern for the frog

1. Print out this pattern and cut it out

2. Cut out 2 pieces of felt and lay them on top of each other. Pin the pattern to the felt and cut out the frog

3. Sew around the out side of the frogs leaving the bottom un-sewed.

4. Glue on the eyes

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Grain Free Banana Bread (Kosher for Passover)

There is a wonderful gluten free blog called Elana's Pantry. Elana does amazing things with almond flour. She uses a food processor to mix her ingredients and that obviously has something to do with her success with almond flour. This is her recipe for Paleo Banana Bread and it is delicious. It's so good that the loaf I made for this picture this afternoon is almost gone and Passover is two weeks away.

I did make one change. Since I have not been able to find Spectrum palm shortening that is kosher for Passover I substituted it with extra virgin coconut oil. Like Elana I used a slim loaf pan since this bread won't rise quite as much as a bread made with flour. Elana recommends The Magic Line 3.5 x 7.5 inch pan. If you can't get one before Passover you can always use an If You Care makes unbleached paper loaf pan available at Whole Foods and Fairway. I like to double them up so that they retain there shape with the heavy banana bread batter in it. You can then reuse the pan on the bottom the next time you bake.

2 cups blanched almonds flour (Digestive Wellness has the best almond flour out there and it's kosher for Passover!)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt.
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 medium ripe bananas
3 eggs (room temperature so they don't solidify the coconut oil)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine the dry ingredients and set aside.

3. Pulse the bananas in the food processor till smooth (it should only take a few pulses).

4. Add the eggs, vanilla, honey and oil to the food processor and pulse to combine.

5. Holding on to the top of the blade pour the batter in to a greased and floured with tapioca or potato starch.

6. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until it is firm in the middle of the pan. The bread will be darker than banana bread made with wheat flour so don't be put off by the darker color.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Easy Pistachio Crusted Chicken (Kosher for Passover)

When we were at the Santa Monica Farmers market last February we were overwhelmed by the site of beautiful produce in the middle of the winter. It really raised our spirits. One of our favorite things we found there were pistachios from the Santa Barbara Pistachio Company. They had a flavor called Onion Garlic Roast and we all loved them. This is a Passover friendly dish that was inspired by them

8 ounces of raw pistachios ground to medium in a food processeors (this should make about 2 cups of ground nuts)
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon fine salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
2 eggs
6 boneless chicken breasts all about the same size.

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Grind the pistachios to a medium grind. Put the ground nuts on a plate and add granulated garlic, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

3. Dip the chicken breast in egg and then in the ground pistachios and coat both sides of the chicken.

4. Oil the bottom of a large pan or 2 depending on their size. Put the chicken in the pan(s).

5. Bake at 375 for about 1/2 hour until the chicken is cooked through

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Grain Free Raspberry Bars (Kosher for Passover)

It's that time of year again and I am busy organizing my home and getting ready to clean for Passover. As we all know trying to eat healthy food on Passover is hard. There just seems to be so much junk food out there. While this does have some sugar in it, these raspberry bars are full of nuts and coconut and are very filling. My husband and son love these for a snack but you can also serve them for dessert or even for breakfast.

1 and 3/4 cups fine almond flour
1/4 tapioca starch/flour (or potato starch)
1 cup of shredded coconut
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup demerara or regular sugar
1/3 cup raspberry or apricot jam
8x8 pan
Oil to grease pan
Tapioca or potato starch to dust pan

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly oil and dust with tapioca or potato starch the 8x8 pan.

2. Combine almond flour, coconut and salt in a bowl. In separate bowl combine eggs and sugar. Add the sugar and eggs to the dry ingredients and combine.

5. Cover the bottom of the pan with half of the dough.

6. Spread the jam over the dough in the pan.

7. Using a teaspoon make small irregular balls of the dough on the tip of the spoon and put in on top of the jam.

8. Cover the jam with the balls leaving some small spaces. Then wet a tablespoon and shake off the excess water. Pat down the top of the small ball so there are no peaks that might burn. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until the top is golden.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Tu B'Shvat: Dates and Marscapone Cheese

Tu B'shvat, which falls on January 26th this year, is the Jewish New Year for the trees. One might ask why would a tree need a new year? They need one because of the many Halachot (Jewish laws) pertaining to agriculture in the land of Israel such as tithing produce. In many ways it is like an agricultural fiscal new year. Fruit that has already blossomed by Tu B'Shvat belongs to the previous year and anything that blossoms after Tu' B' Shvat belongs to the new year.

First mentioned in the Mishna (the Jewish Oral Law) Tu B'Shvat has a long history. In the times of the Gaonim (500 to 1038 CE) Tu' B'Shvat was a day of particular importance for the Jews in the land of Israel. In fact there was a special Shemoneh Esrei (the central prayer of any Jewish religious service) for Tu B'Shvat!

Today Tu B'Shvat has become a sort of Jewish Earth Day. It's a day to reflect on our relationship to the environment. One of the ways that we celebrate is by eating the 7 agricultural products that are singled out in the Torah: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.

If you are interested in learning more about the relationship that we have with the environment you can listen to Rabbi Daniel Fridman's class To Cultivate and Preserve: Man's Relationship with his Environment.

Warning: This combination is addictive!

Madjool Dates
Marscapone Cheese

1. Split open and pit the dates.
2. Spread Marscapone cheese on top of the open dates.
3. Eat!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Potato Kugel (Kosher for Passover)

Kugel is the ultimate Shabbat food. It's delicious hot from the oven on Friday night or heated up on top of your cholent pot for lunch. Though I have loved potato kugel since I first tasted it I never made it until recently. It's really hard to get the right consistency and the thought of hand grating 5 lb. of potatoes was not appealing to me. Then it occurred to me that if I cut the potatoes into chunks before I put them in the food processor with the small grating blade that I might actually get the consistency that I was looking for. It ended up working and I have been making lots of potato kugel recently.

5lbs of Russet potatoes
1 1/2 lbs yellow onions
1/2 cup of potato flour or potato starch
1/2 cup of refined coconut oil (do not use extra virgin!) plus oil for the pan
9 eggs
2 teaspoons of salt
lots of fresh pepper
9x13 pan

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Generously grease the pan with coconut oil.

Beat the eggs and put them into the large bowl you will be mixing your kugel in.

Cut the onions into large chunks and grate them using the large grating blade.When you are done grating the onions squeeze out the extra liquid and mix them into the eggs.

Peel half of the potatoes and cut into chunks. Grate them in the food processor using the SMALL grating blade. Squeeze out as much of the water as you can with you hands. Combine the grated potatoes with the egg and onion mixture. Repeat with the other half of the potatoes.

Add 1/2 cup of coconut oil, the flour or potato starch, salt and pepper and combine.

Bake in the oven at 300 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours or until the kugel is golden

Friday, January 11, 2013

NYC Staycation

The last time we went away for December break was 7 years ago. J's parents took all their children and grandchildren to Disney world we had a really nice time but Disney World was very crowded and we ended up spending 7 hours on the plane ride home. As far as I was concerned that was the last time I was going away the last week of December. Since that last winter vacation in Florida we have been spending our winterbreak in Manhattan and we always have a great time.

Since J was taking Z to London for a mancation (they had an amazing time even though the Arsenal game was cancelled due to a tube strike!) it was going to be just me and my ladies. Before vacation started I planned out a few easy projects for the girls to do. I bought an origami kit and kite paper for Waldorf stars from Bella Luna Toys. We also did some sewing with wool felt I ordered from Weir Dolls and Crafts. This helped keep everyone busy through out the week and a half that we were home.

It took us a day to figure out how to make those little boxes.

I love how they look so happy together. FYI 10 minutes before this photo was taken all hell was breaking loose!

T's handy work 

In Manhattan many of the best after school programs run vacation camps that generally run from 10 to 3. This year R did 3 days of crafts camp at Jem Fabric Warehouse in Tribeca. T did 3 days of Writopia and spent much of the rest of her time at home working on her writing. D was happy just being home, though, on the one day that the girls' camps overlapped I did take her to the New York Historical Society where they have a great basement space for kids, an kid friendly movie about the history of New York City and of course the historical toys exhibit on the 4th floor.

Other activities we did were ice skating in Da Bronx at the new Van Cortland Park ice skating rink, a Saturday night staycation swim and pizza party at friends who have a pool in their building, going to the movies to see Life of Pi and of course 2 trip to D's beloved Little Shop of Crafts

Western "urban view" at Van Cortland rink

Eastern "park view" of Van Cortland rink

Little Shop of Crafts

It was not just a staycation for the kids! Mommy was happy as could be waking up at 9 instead of 7. We also ordered in dinner way more than we usually do. On New Years Eve J and I actually went out and saw the Fab Faux, a amazing Beatles tribute band with friends. On New Years day we had friends over for brunch.

I  loved being with the kids for 12 days just doing our thing and not being at the mercy of anyone else's schedule. When it was all over Wednesday morning I was sad. I really wished that they had given us the full 2 weeks off!


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