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Change it Up Piccata!

I am always looking for ways to change up a standard recipe, that I seem to make over and over. Especially this time of year, I am hearing lots of people that are switching over to a gluten-free lifestyle or trying to cut down on the “bad” carbs.

Chicken Piccata is one recipe I can always count on that my whole family will eat. Even my most picky eater just scrapes the capers off and is happy. So how can I make this a healthier dish to put on my dinner table? I came up with nuts, instead of breadcrumbs. When I use breadcrumbs, in anything, they are homemade and toasted with copious amounts of butter. I also try to infuse as much flavor into the breadcrumbs as possible and that means salt, too. By using the nuts, you get SO much more flavor and less salt with no butter.

In this recipe, I chose to use walnuts, but you can really use any nut.  I also, always, toast the nuts before I use them. It really enhances the flavor. Finally, remember that nuts do have a shelf life.  You should be able to smell when they have turned or are a little too old to use. Or you can just trust the date on the bag.

Sorry for no picture. I thought I had one from testing but didn’t. I promise to post one soon.

Enjoy!

Walnut Crusted Chicken Piccata
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Servings
2-4 people
Servings
2-4 people
Walnut Crusted Chicken Piccata
Print Recipe
Servings
2-4 people
Servings
2-4 people
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Start by heating your pan on high heat with no oil in it.
  2. Pound chicken so that they are evenly thin (about 1/2"). Season with salt & pepper
  3. Pulse walnuts in processor to a coarse crumble. Place in a shallow bowl.
  4. Coat both sides of chicken with walnuts. Optional: you can brush the chicken with a dab of olive oil.
  5. Add olive oil to the pan and then add chicken. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. It should look golden and crispy. Remove to a plate and keep warm covered with foil.
  6. Remove pan from heat, until ready to make the sauce. Your walnut bits will burn if you aren't careful.
  7. Juice one of the lemons and slice the other for garnish.
  8. Return pan to a low-medium heat and add a little more olive oil. Scrape up the browned bits.
  9. Add the garlic then lemon juice, chicken broth, and capers, continuing to scrape the bottom of the pan. Make sure it isn't burning.
  10. The sauce should begin to bubble and thicken within 2-3 minutes.
  11. Pour sauce over chicken. Garnish with parsley and lemon slices. Serve immediately.
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Try Something New! DIY Protein Powder

Well, here we are a few days after New Year’s and, so far so good. I’ve been able to stay on track and feel great. One of the things I’ve been doing is having a homemade protein powder on the counter, at the ready. This makes it so easy to grab something healthy when cravings strike.  I also use it for a quick breakfast.

There are literally thousands of ready-made protein powders on the market so why do I feel compelled to make my own? I have never been able to find one that doesn’t taste, I’ll say it, GROSS, to me. I have very sensitive taste buds. That means that in some powders I will taste every vitamin. In others, I can taste the chemicals. Or worse, in the “natural” ones that it tastes like I’m drinking grass. The others I’ve tried and liked are not natural and so sweetened that I know they aren’t healthy.

So, I started my research and came up with my own recipe. It gave me a starting flavor I like and flexibility of adding chocolate, vanilla, berry, and others. This base is so great because you can get creative.  How about making the chocolate powder version and adding peanut butter and banana? I love to add frozen cherries to the vanilla and to the chocolate. Truly the possibilities are endless.

Enjoy and be sure to let me know what you try!

 

DIY Protein Powder

1/2 cup protein source like dry milk, whey, whole nuts, seeds or hemp hearts, choose one or mix it all up.                                                                                                                                                               1/2 cup rolled oats.                                                                                                                                        Optional-add fiber  – 1/3 cup of chia seeds, ground flax seed, wheat germ or hemp hearts.                   Add some Flavor:                                                                                                                                       2 T. cocoa powder or                                                                                                                                       1/4 of a vanilla bean, scraped or                                                                                                                  1 T. espresso powder or                                                                                                                             2 T. ground, freeze-dried berries

Grind your desired ingredients, in a food processor, until it is a fine powder. I make several different flavors at one time. Store in an airtight container, in the refrigerator.

To make the smoothie, add 2 T. powder, 1 cup milk (regular, seed, nut or coconut), and 1/2 frozen banana. You can use other frozen fruit, but I start with bananas because of the thickness they give.

This morning I had chocolate powder and added 1 T. PB Fit powder. I used unsweetened vanilla coconut milk. YUM!!!

Cake for Breakfast!

Cake for breakfast! Yes it’s a thing and it is all over the Internet. It’s actually not a new thing. It started popping up in my feed in every blog I get, recently. So, I decided to do a little research of my own. Before I get to a really good chocolate cake recipe, that you will probably over indulge in, let me give you some of the Kisses and Nibs of it all.

The original study came out in 2011 and was conducted in the UK. It did say that eating cake for breakfast was a good thing and that you might lose some weight. However, it turns out the study was more about eating a big hearty breakfast than it was about eating cake. It also pointed out that if you’re going to eat sugary unrefined carbs, maybe you want to do it earlier in the day, rather than later. Finally, the UK study was a closed study, meaning that the participants were living and eating in a dorm facility. So the facilitators noted that perhaps the social nature of eating together might have had the participants eating less. Be more social when you eat breakfast, if you can. Talk more, eat less.

The second study was done at Tel Aviv University in 2013. This study suggested that the brain works better when it is stimulated immediately in the morning and that chocolate cake was a great conduit for that. The long and short of this is that chocolate has flavonoids and caffeine; both can act as a stimulant. Flavonoids are also a great antioxidant. Both supply energy to the brain and in my honest opinion are a great way to start your day.

I did the MOST official study of all in 2017. It shows that if you make a chocolate cake, somebody will eat it for breakfast!

Okay, enough with the science! Here is a great chocolate cake recipe. I put it together from several different recipes. Make a double batch of the frosting; one is just not quite enough to frost the whole cake.


Really Good Chocolate Cake
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This is three full layers of cake, not one cake cut into three layers! With lots of rich milk chocolate frosting between and all around. Oh yeah!
Really Good Chocolate Cake
Print Recipe
This is three full layers of cake, not one cake cut into three layers! With lots of rich milk chocolate frosting between and all around. Oh yeah!
Ingredients
Chocolate Cake
Milk Chocolate Frosting
Servings:
Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and Flour three 9" round cake pans.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.
  3. In a large heatproof bowl, combine the unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder. Heat the water and butter in a pot over medium heat until butter is melted but water is simmering not boiling.
  4. Pour hot liquid over chocolate and cocoa mixture and stir to combine and melted and smooth.
  5. Add the sugar and mix to combine. Make sure chocolate mixture has cooled then add the eggs, one at a time and use a hand mixer to just combine. Add vanilla extract.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture alternating with the buttermilk, finish with the flour, being sure to scrape down the sides. Don’t over mix.
  7. Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake 20-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pan 15 minutes, then invert and cool on rack. Cool completely before frosting.
Frosting
  1. In the bowl of a stand up mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and slowly add the sugar. Be sure to scrape down the sides. Drizzle in melted, cooled chocolate until evenly combined
  2. Frost each layer with about ¾ cup frosting and between each layer. Use remaining frosting to frost whole outer cake.
  3. Melt additional chocolate candy bars and drizzle over the top of frosted cake for decoration.
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Challenge- Passover is Coming!

For Passover, I am always looking for your input. This year especially I wanted to hear from you.  I just finished working on a Jewish Holiday Cookbook and I could have easily pulled amazing recipes from there for you and been done with it.  Let me tell you, this cookbook is going to be great! However, I asked some friends what were they looking for this year to add to their menus. Of course I heard the plea for desserts. The twist I heard was “Please give me something with no matzah meal!”

If you keep kosher for Passover, you know matzah meal can leave you feeling a little weighted down by the end of the week. So I accepted the CHALLENGE. Obviously, you will still eat matzah and there has to be matzah meal in matzah balls, for the soup. But here are recipes that are great and matzah meal free. You can use these as one menu for your dinner or you can use just a recipe or two. As always feel free to send me your questions and comments. You know I love hearing from you!.  Have an easy Passover!

Mustard Onion Marinade Brisket
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Mustard Onion Marinade Brisket
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Make a paste the first five ingredients and rub all over the brisket. Wrap brisket in parchment then foil. Place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Remove parchment and foil. Place in a roasting pan, with beef broth and cover TIGHTLY with foil, again.
  3. Bake at 500°F for 1/2 hour then reduce heat to 325°F and bake another 2 hours or longer.
  4. Let meat rest for at least a 1/2 hour before slicing. Better yet let it cool completely. Refrigerate and reheat or serve cold.
Recipe Notes

All I can say is YUM!!!!

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Passover Potato Souffle
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Passover Potato Souffle
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Peel the potatoes and cook in a medium saucepan until tender. Drain. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and mash.
  2. Grate half the cheese and mix with hot potatoes. Add salt, pepper and paprika.
  3. Beat the potatoes until cheese melts. Add the milk and egg yolks. Mix well.
  4. In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff; fold them into the potato mixture.
  5. Turn into a, very lightly greased, 1 1/2 quart casserole. Sprinkle with remaining grated cheese.
  6. Bake in a preheated 425°F oven for 20 minutes
Recipe Notes

This recipe serves 4. It doubles easily.

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Zoodles with Garlic Parsley Sauce
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Use a Spiralizer to make whatever veggie noodles you like. I like a mixture of zucchini and carrots. Cook in boiling water until al dente. You don't want them too soft. Reserve the water.
Zoodles with Garlic Parsley Sauce
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Use a Spiralizer to make whatever veggie noodles you like. I like a mixture of zucchini and carrots. Cook in boiling water until al dente. You don't want them too soft. Reserve the water.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large saute pan, melt the margarine. Add the garlic and sauce until soft. Watch it, so it doesn't burn. Add the parsley and continue to saute until soft.
  2. Add the zoodles and toss until well coated in sauce. If you want the sauce a little thinner add some of your reserved pasta water.
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Chocolate Pavlova with Raspberries and Marscapone Cream
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Chocolate Pavlova with Raspberries and Marscapone Cream
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Ingredients
Pavlova
Mascarpone Cream
Servings:
Instructions
Pavlova
  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Trace a 9" circle on parchment using a cake pan or plate. Flip paper over so meringue won't touch pen.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with a whisk, beat the egg whites and salt on medium speed until foamy soft peaks form, about a minute or two. Increase speed to medium-high and gradually add the sugar; continue beating until stiff peaks form. This should take about 8 or 9 minutes. The meringue will be white and glossy.
  3. Sift the cocoa powder through a fine sieve or sifter and add to meringue. Add the vinegar and the chopped chocolate.
  4. Using a large rubber or silicone spatula, fold the mixture until well combined. It should be light mocha colored and no streaks.
  5. Secure the parchment with a dab of meringue in each corner, then mound the meringue in the center of the circle. Even out the sides, slightly with the spatula or a knife. You don't want it to be perfect or overworked.
  6. Place in oven and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes , or until the meringue is puffed and crisp all over. It should still be a bit wobbly underneath, if you touch the center.
  7. Turn the oven off and prop the door open. Leave the meringue in the oven to cool to room temperature, at least 30 minutes. It is best to let it cool gradually.
Mascarpone Cream
  1. In a medium bowl , beat the mascarpone, heavy cream and vanilla until just combined. Gradually add sugar and continue beating. Increase speed and beat until soft peaks form. You soft clouds of cream.
  2. Mound cream in the center of the meringue and spread to just cover top. Top with fresh raspberries and serve. You can shave some more bittersweet chocolate over the top for more decoration.
  3. The Pavlova can be made a day or two ahead of time and assembled up to 12 hours ahead. Just be sure to keep all components refrigerated.
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Panisse – My idea of a healthyish snack!

I don’t think there is a perfect snack that teenagers, foodie husbands and moms trying to cook healthy for their families would agree on. I do think I tried one in France that might suffice; Panisse!

You can find many snacks made with chickpea flour, such as Socca chips and Panisse, in Nice and Southern Italy. They are delicious and are most often served with a healthy sprinkle of fresh ground pepper. They have a crispy exterior and a creamy interior almost like a polenta French fry. I tried these when I was in France and have been searching for a way to serve them ever since.

So now my worlds have finally collided. I’ve been spending all my time working on a fundraising cookbook for an organization I am involved in personally. It is a Jewish Holiday Cookbook and honestly the recipes are knockouts! I will let you know as soon as it is available.

The other piece is my wonderful family. I have a 17 year old that is a senior in high school and having so much fun with her senior activities, a sophomore in high school that is starting her second season of club water polo and a sports fanatic husband that is in the throws of March Madness. “Calgon take me away!” remember that commercial of a frantic mom looking for some relaxation? In all the craziness I was feeding everyone snacks that were quick, easy and quite frankly, not very good, or healthy. So I thought I ‘d give you all the chance to benefit from my haste.

These batons (fancy name for steak fries) are fried, yes I said fried, but the fact they are made with chickpea (garbanzo) flour offsets the fry, in my book. Chickpea flour really packs a punch. It is naturally loaded with protein, high in fiber and gluten free. If you or any family members are vegan or vegetarian this is a nearly perfect food. I fry in a cast iron skillet in about ½” of olive oil so you are not deep-frying. Another justification for “its not so bad” and you get the benefits of cast iron, too. When you taste these you have a nice crispy exterior and creamy interior, almost like a polenta french fry. As I said above, a good sprinkle of pepper is good; you can also try Parmesan or some Marinara sauce, for dipping.

Panisse - My idea of a healthyish snack!
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Servings
40 pieces
Servings
40 pieces
Panisse - My idea of a healthyish snack!
Print Recipe
Servings
40 pieces
Servings
40 pieces
Ingredients
Servings: pieces
Instructions
  1. Lightly oil a square pan.
  2. Heat the broth with oil, garlic and salt in a heavy saucepan. You can use water, I like to use chicken or vegetable broth for building your flavor.
  3. Once the liquid is hot, but not boiling, slowly whisk in the chickpea flour. Whisk over a medium heat until it thickens, about 3 minutes.
  4. Switch to a wooden spoon and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes until batter becomes very thick and it holds its shape.
  5. Scrape dough/batter into oiled pan and let cool.
  6. To fry panisses, unmold solid mix onto cutting board and slice into batons/fries.
  7. In a heavy or cast iron skillet heat 1/4' to 1/2" of olive oil. When the oil is shiny hot, but NOT smoking, fry the panisses, in batches. Do not overcrowd. once the bottoms are nicely browned and crisp turn, carefully, with tongs, cook until you have a deep golden brown color on both sides.
  8. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels or brown paper bag. Sprinkle with a lot of coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper. Dust with grated Parmesan cheese, too. You can serve with marinara sauce for dipping too.
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Gateau au Chocolat

Here is the recipe for the greatest mistake I ever made!

Gateau au Chocolat
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Gateau au Chocolat
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Grease and line with wax paper a 9x5x3 loaf pan.
  2. Melt chocolate and beat in butter with a spoon or spatula.
  3. Beat egg whites with a hand mixer to stiff peaks; set aside. With same beaters beat egg yolks until thick and light in color.
  4. Slowly add the sugar, beating constantly. Add the flour and beat until just combined. Stir egg yolk mixture into chocolate mixture, then fold egg whites into this mixture. You will have some egg whites still showing.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Reduce oven heat to 350°F and bake 25 minutes.
  6. Let cool completely in pan. Cake will settle like a cheesecake. Turn out. Refrigerate for 4 hours until well chilled. Decorate with abandon!
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Charred Cauliflower with Picada Sauce

Picada is like a pesto. Made with chocolate and almonds it is lovely on the palate!

Charred Cauliflower with Picada Sauce
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Charred Cauliflower with Picada Sauce
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat oven broiler to high
  2. Toss florets with 2 T. olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Broil, turning once, half way through, until charred and tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat garlic and remaining oil in skillet an cook, over medium heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Be sure to watch and stir, so garlic doesn't burn. Transfer oil and garlic to a a medium bowl an let cool.
  4. Stir almonds, parsley, chocolate, sherry, salt and pepper into garlic oil. Toss with cauliflower while it is still hot. Garnish and serve immediately.
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