Vegan Funfetti Cheesecake Bites

  

I grew up with Easter baskets, but I didn’t grow up “celebrating” Easter by any means. When I visited dad’s house during Easter time, though, my stepmother would have beautiful Easter baskets prepared for my brother, myself and of course, my half-sister. If you follow me on my blog, Jewhungry, then you know I am the product of a Jewish mother and a Christian father. My parents divorced when I was 4 and I was primarily raised by my Jewish mother and I am an observant Jewish woman today. That said, I have so much respect and gratitude for the experiences from the exposure to Christianity that I had growing up. At the time, I would’ve said I had respect for it because of the awesome Easter baskets and Christmas presents. Now, as a grown woman and mother, I have respect for it because it’s part of my heritage and what brought me to where I am today.

While I toyed with the idea of figuring out how to do a Passover basket, I realized it just wouldn’t be the same. Also, I’m not a huge fan of cultural religious appropriation. However, if I were to put anything in a Passover basket, these cute little funfetti bites would be it. Not all nuts are kosher for Passover, but hazelnuts and cashews are definitely kosher. Plus, they pair beautifully with the dates. And what doesn’t look good with rainbow sprinkles? You also don’t actually bake these guys so, win-win!

I was inspired by the vegan goddess that is Dana over at The Minimalist Baker. If you don’t know her stuff, well, I’m just gonna assume you’ve been in a coma for years because that’s the only conceivable reason I could understand for not knowing her.

I hope this dessert brings you and your loved ones sweet holidays. Happy no baking!

 Vegan Funfetti Cheesecake Bites {No-Bake + GF}

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1 cup packed dates, pitted (if dry, soak in warm water for 10 minutes then drain)
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch sea salt

 

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, quick soaked*
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. full fat coconut milk (see instructions for note)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (or more) rainbow sprinkles

 

Instructions:

1. Add ingredients for the crust into a food processor and process until a loose dough forms – it should stick together when you squeeze a bit between your fingers. If it’s too dry, add a few more dates through the spout while processing. If too wet, add a few more hazelnuts or almonds.

2. Grease a standard mini muffin tin.

3. Scoop in heaping 1 Tbsp. amounts of crust and press with fingers, making sure to really pack it in there. Set in freezer to firm up.

4. To quick soak cashews, pour boiling hot water over the cashews, soak for 1 hour uncovered, then drain and use as instructed.

5. Add all filling ingredients to a high-speed blender and mix until very smooth. For the coconut milk, I like to scoop the “cream” off the top because it provides a richer texture. But if yours is already all mixed together, just add it in as is. (Pro tip – Put a can of coconut milk right into the fridge as soon as you get home from the grocery store. This will guarantee you have the ‘cream’ on hand for just such an occasion as making raw cheesecake bites!)

6. Blend all filling ingredients for roughly 1 minute or until silky smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

7. Pour filling into a separate medium size bowl. Add in your sprinkles leaving a handful to the side for sprinkling on top just before freezing.

8. Divide filling evenly among the muffin tins. Tap a few times to release any air bubbles.

9. Evenly disperse the last sprinkles
onto the tops of each cheesecake to create a pretty little topping. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until hard – about 4-6 hours.

10. Once set, remove by running a butter knife along the sides of the crust. They should pop right out. Let sit for a few minutes so you don’t break your teeth on them. Keep in the freezer for up to 1-2 weeks.

This recipe was reprinted with permission from jewhungrytheblog.com

Fresh Start Rice Noodle Bowls

  

In the winter there is something so comforting about a classic Shabbat roasted chicken. Often though, the meal can feel heavy with chicken at the center of heavy starch and vegetable sides. This Rice Noodle Bowl takes either freshly roasted chicken breasts, or some of your leftover roasted chicken and creates a nice, light, customizable meal in a bowl. It’s comfort food with out the gooey heavy cheesiness of, say, mac ‘n’ cheese or chili.

The long noodles also make this a perfect dish to cook for couples and families celebrating Chinese New Year, which just happens to fall on Shabbat this year (January 28 to be exact). Just as we eat honey and apples for a sweet Jewish new year, Chinese tradition is to eat long noodles. It is one of the “lucky foods” meant to represent a long life.

Ingredients

Choose what you like to add into your rice bowl. You can make it with tofu to keep it vegetarian or salmon if you want fish. You can also add some fresh grated ginger or cilantro for extra flavors.

Rice Noodle Bowls with Vegetables and Chicken
(Serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Rotisserie chicken or 2 skin-on boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 pint of mushrooms of your choice (I used Beech Mushrooms)
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil (canola or grapeseed oil is best)
    You will have leftover shallot oil that can be used in other recipes
  • 1 shallot
  • 6 heads of baby bok choy
  • 1 bouillon cube with water or chicken stock (for 1 cup of stock)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 scallions
  • 1/2 package of rice noodles (two nests)
  • 1 carrot

 

Directions:

ingredients1.  If you are using a rotisserie chicken, you will just slice 4 slices of the chicken breast and set it aside on a plate. If you are roasting a chicken breast, use this method from Ina Garten; it is simple and tasty.

2.  Pour vegetable oil into a small saucepan and heat it over low. While the oil heats, slice the shallots as thinly as possible. Have a fork or slotted spoon on hand and put a layer of paper towels on a small plate.Turn the oil up to medium heat. Once the oil ripples, you should be able to toss in a piece of shallot and see if it sizzles instantly. Then it is hot enough. If it burns, take the oil off the heat to cool and remove the burnt shallot. Cook the shallots in the hot oil for 10-20 minutes until crispy. Remove the shallots with a fork or slotted spoon onto a plate lined with paper towels. Set the oil aside to cool.

3.  Wash and slice the scallions using both the white and green parts of the scallion about halfway up the greens. Peel the carrot and slice it into thin matchsticks.

4.  Prepare the rice noodles as directed by the package. Typically, the noodles soak in boiling water for about 10 minutes and then rinse in cold water.

5.  Pour the shallot oil into a jar. The leftover oil is great for salad dressings and seasoning. You will not use the entire 1/4 cup.

sautee mushrooms6.  If you are just using a few mushrooms you can sauté them in the oil left behind in the pan. If you are using a lot of mushrooms, use a larger sauté pan and pour in a teaspoon of the shallot oil. You do not want to crowd the mushrooms or they will steam instead of sauté. Clean and slice the mushrooms if they are not pre-sliced. Smaller mushrooms can be left whole.

7.  In a small saucepan, cover the egg with cold water. Bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer for 3 minutes. While the egg is simmering prepare a bowl with ice water. After 3 minutes, dunk the egg in the ice water and let it cool. Once cool, carefully peel the egg.

8.  Empty the water out of the egg saucepan and add in your stock or water and bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and then let simmer. Wash and slice the baby bok choy into halves or quarters depending on how big they are.

cook your bok choy9.  Now you can assemble your rice noodle bowls. On a plate or individual bowls you will put your slices of scallion, crispy shallots, carrots and sautéed mushrooms. Toss the rinsed rice noodles in the leftover oil from the pan that you used to sautée the mushrooms. Just before serving, cook the bok choy in the chicken stock for a few minutes and then heat up the slices of chicken in the chicken stock as well. This will only take a few minutes each.

9.  Divide the noodles into two bowls. Slice the egg and put half in each bowl. Allow people to add the toppings they like to the dish and then drizzle with a little additional shallot oil. Stir it all together and enjoy.

Chinese noodle bowl

 

 

Bruschetta Mac and Cheese

  

bruschetta_mac_and_cheese_holding_650There’s one dish that will always and forever have a place in my heart (probably literally and figuratively at this point!)—macaroni and cheese. To give you a clue as to just how much I love mac and cheese, for my 30th birthday my husband took me out to a well-known restaurant in Ann Arbor, MI, where I was in graduate school at the time, and ordered a flight of four different kinds of made-to-order mac and cheese. Six years later, I still remember it as one of my most favorite meals.

So when it comes to hosting a vegetarian friend for a Shabbat meal, I see it as an opportunity to embrace my mac and cheese side. I like to get creative and go bananas with mac and cheese. For Sukkot one year, I had some friends over for a mac and cheese bar that included every kind of vegetarian-friendly topping you can think of, and about four different kinds of hot sauces. It was awesome! But when I want to bring out a showstopper, the recipe below is the one I go for. The balsamic vinegar pairs perfectly with the cheeses that have been kissed with a hint of mustard. Plus you can never go wrong with a beautiful, colorful topping like tomatoes, basil and Parmesan. And if your kids don’t like greens or vegetables of any color touching their mac and cheese, you can give them the “untouched” pasta on the side. Everyone wins!

Bruschetta Mac and Cheese Recipe

Ingredients:

Mac and Cheese

  • 13 oz. rotini pasta or other small pasta shapes
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cups milk, heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 6 oz. shredded Swiss cheese
  • 8 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 4 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (adjust according to your tastes)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper

Bruschetta Topping

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 pint red grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Roughly 8 whole basil leaves, finely chopped (or chiffonade)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

 Bruschetta Topping

1. In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir, lightly frying for about a minute, removing before the garlic gets too brown (it can be golden). Pour into a mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly.

2. Add tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, basil and salt and pepper to the bowl. Toss to combine, then taste and add more basil and salt, if needed. Cover and set aside.

Mac and Cheese

1. In a large stockpot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.

2. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and started to bubble, whisk in the flour; cook for 1 ½ minutes, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook milk mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 8 minutes.

3. Remove saucepan from the heat, and by the handful stir in the cheeses, allowing all of the cheese to melt into the sauce before adding more. Stir in the mustard and salt. Return the saucepan to the heat and stir in the pasta. Be sure to stir up the sauce from the bottom of the pan and thoroughly coat all of the pasta with sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat until heated through.

4. Once complete, either spoon all of your mac and cheese into a serving dish and serve with artfully placed bruschetta topping (this is what I recommend for the wow factor!) or spoon into individual bowls and add toppings.

bruschetta 2_650

Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Potato with Figs and Tahini

  

title fig 650_horizontalI absolutely love Rosh Hashanah and all things High Holiday season. I love fall weather, and I love the changing leaves and a bit of crisp in the air (though having lived in Miami and then Los Angeles for the last five years, I do miss the actual crisp in the air). Rosh Hashanah has been my favorite holiday ever since I was a little kid growing up in Atlanta. But it wasn’t until I learned how to really cook that Rosh Hashanah cemented itself in my heart as a culinary holiday. As I learn more and more about the holidays, I gain a better understanding of just how connected Jewish holidays are to the earth, the season and the harvest for that season. The recipe in this post is a testament to my commitment to honor the fruits and vegetables of the season. Roasted cauliflower and sweet potato is one of my go-to recipes for a quick, healthy and flavorful side dish on any Shabbat dinner table. But I wanted to jazz things up a bit, so I added some roasted garlic and perfectly ripe figs to balance the saltiness of the tahini. Whether you’re hosting a bunch of family this holiday season or feasting alone, do yourself a favor and try this dish. It’s great as a hot side or as a topping on a salad the next day. Enjoy!

Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Potato with Figs and Tahini

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1½-inch pieces
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 5 cloves garlic, skins removed
  • 4 Tbsp. plus ½ Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • ½ cup tahini paste
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3-4 Tbsp. hot water
  • 5-6 figs, cut in half length-wise
  • Fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, optional

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.fig_roasted

2. Spread the cauliflower florets and sweet potato in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and turmeric. Using a spatula, mix the cauliflower and sweet potato to spread the oil and spices around.

3. Place garlic cloves and remaining olive oil on a small piece of aluminum foil. Wrap garlic and oil in the foil so no oil can escape. Place foil in the corner of the baking sheet holding the veggies.

4. Place baking sheet in the oven and bake roughly 40 minutes, or until cauliflower and sweet potato are crispy on the edges.

5. Meanwhile, prepare the tahini by adding the tahini paste, lemon, kosher salt and garlic
powder to a deep bowl. Mix until combined. Add the water a tablespoon at a time, stirring in between until the desired consistency is met. Taste as you go and adjust the seasoning to your liking. I like mine pretty runny, so I may add another tablespoon or more of hot water.

6. Once vegetables are done, let cool for 5 minutes (make sure to open the foil of garlic and let it cool as well). Place all veggies and sliced figs on a serving dish and drizzle with tahini. Serve with an additional topping of cilantro or parsley, if desired.

 

fig 7 edited 650

Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples and Onions

  

Roasted_Vegetables-FPO_650

Apples, the symbolic fruit for the Jewish New Year, can find their way onto your holiday menu in many ways. This recipe may not have its origins in Europe or the Middle East, but it plays on the tradition of elevating even the simplest of ingredients into a festive dish.

I serve this as a side for brisket or chicken, but you can also combine it with quinoa or barley as a more substantial side dish or vegetarian main course. Although you can buy a whole butternut squash and peel and cube it yourself, I find it’s worth the time and money to buy the squash already peeled and cubed. You might have to cut some of the chunks into smaller pieces if they’re too large, but otherwise this is a fast and easy dish to make. You don’t even have to peel the apples!IMG_2987_650

Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples and Onions

Serves 6-8 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 apples (Fuji, Honeycrisp or Jonagold)
  • 20 oz. cubed butternut squash (about 4-5 cups of 1-inch cubes)
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic or pomegranate vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 20 grindings of black pepper or to taste
  • ½ cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds or toasted pine nuts (optional)

 

Directions:sliced_onions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cut onion in half and slice each piece crosswise into ½-inch strips. Place on a large rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

3. Using an apple slicer, cut apple into eighths and then cut each wedge into three or four chunks. Add to the onions, along with the squash cubes.

diced_apples_butternut_squash

4. Add the remaining ingredients and toss well. Arrange in a single layer and bake for 20 minutes. If onions are not yet golden and squash is still firm, gently turn the mixture and return to the oven for another 6 minutes, or until done.

toss_apples_squash

5. Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with dried cranberries and sunflower seeds and serve.

sprinkle_apples_squash_serve

Sha-barbecue Cilantro, Lime & Yogurt Chicken Wings

  

wings title horizontal

Gang, summer is coming to an end! We need to embrace all of its delights as much as we can, including swimming and eating as much ice cream as possible, because that’s what summer’s about, right? I think we should also embrace the later Shabbat start times, and one of my favorite ways to do this is by hosting a “Sha-barbecue”! The first time I enjoyed a Sha-barbecue was almost 10 years ago when I was living in Chicago. I was invited over to my friend Taron’s place for Shabbat dinner. When I asked him what I could bring, he casually said, “Well, it’s a Sha-barbecue, so maybe some guacamole and chips?” I loved how casually he said Sha-barbecue, like it was a thing everyone knew about the world over. But never in my whole Jewish life had I heard of or attended a Sha-barbecue! Ever since that fateful night, I have fully embraced the Sha-barbecue. With Shabbat not starting until almost 8 in the summer, I’ve found that as a religiously observant Jew it’s easy to have friends over and enjoy some adult beverages while barbecuing up the main course and then sitting down to a lovely Sha-barbecue meal. You know, like our forefathers and mothers used to do!

Sha-barbecue Cilantro, Lime and Yogurt Chicken Wings

Ingredients:

  • 12 whole chicken wings, tips trimmed and discarded
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • ½ Tbsp. pepper
  • ½ Tbsp. sweet paprika
  • ½ Tbsp. cumin
  • ½ Tbsp. garlic powderwings 4

 

Marinade:

  • 1 cup coconut-milk yogurt (plain)
  • 4 key limes, juiced
  • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • ½ Tbsp. smoked paprika

 

For serving:

  • Maldon sea salt
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

 

Directions:

1. Wash and dry the chicken wings, making sure they are free of any feathers. Next, separate drumettes from wingettes by slicing a sharp knife through the joints.

2. Place the chicken wings in a medium bowl. Add the cumin, sweet paprika, garlic powder, kosher salt and pepper. Toss to coat the wings.

3. In a separate, larger bowl, add all the ingredients for the marinade. Stir to combine, tasting for adjustments in seasoning.

4. Once marinade is complete, place the prepared chicken wings into the marinade bowl,wings stirring to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours, making sure not to over-marinate, as the recipe includes lime juice, which can break down the meat (and not in a good way).

5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

6. Using tongs, gently place the wings on the prepared baking sheets, making sure to spread them evenly so they aren’t overlapping. Don’t toss out the remaining marinade, as you will be basting while it bakes.

7. Bake wings for roughly 20 minutes. After the initial 20 minutes, baste each wing with remaining marinade. Bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through.

8. Sprinkle cooked wings with Maldon sea salt and a squeeze of lime just before serving.

wings 3 horizontal

Three-Berry Coconut-Almond Milk Popsicles

  

berry popsicles

Ahhhh, summer. The days are long and hot and Shabbat is even longer and hotter. When it comes to prepping for Shabbat in the summer, it’s always nice to have more hours in the day on Fridays. I love having those extra hours to work on a special main course or to enjoy a refreshing homemade margarita (compliments of my sous chef, who also happens to be my husband). But the toss up, of course, is that havdalah doesn’t come in until as late as 9 pm and with a preschooler who wants snacks every 20 minutes and a husband who eats everything in sight, I’ve gotta be prepared with tons of food options on Shabbat. Since I try to curb too much sugar eating, I’ve started having these homemade popsicles on hand for a late afternoon Shabbat treat. They are a BIG hit with the little and big members of my family. They are not overly sweet but lean more to the cool and refreshing genre of popsicles.

Feel free to add a little bit of maple syrup in with your honey if you’re wanting them a bit sweeter. Either way, you’ll feel a lot better for giving your family a tasty, cool treat that is free of refined sugar and food coloring and packed full of healthy goodness. Enjoy!

How to make popsiclesIngredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups mixture of raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. water
  • 3 Tbsp. plus 2 Tbsp. honey
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup almond milk

Directions:

1.  In a small sauce pot, combine berries, water and 3 tablespoons honey. Bring to a boil until liquid is syrupy and thick. Remove from heat. Stir in the lemon juice. Do not mash the blueberries, keep them as is (it’s prettier).

2.  In a small bowl, whisk in 2 tablespoons of honey, the vanilla, coconut and almond milk.

3.  Fill popsicle molds a little over half full of coconut-almond milk. Spoon in berry mixture to fill the popsicle mold.

4.  Place mold in freezer for 1 hour. Remove molds and insert wooden sticks into each popsicle cavity. Place mold back in the freezer for at least another 4 hours until ice pops are solid.

Finished popsicles

 

Delicious berry popsicle

Buffalo Quinoa Burgers

  

Buffalo quinoa burgers

I was raised on a healthy diet of my mom’s homemade buffalo wings. I remember the first time I had a ‘hot’ wing. She had brought home some leftovers from what would become our favorite wing spot, The Three Dollar Cafe. I remember taking my first bite. I remember my lips seemingly on fire but tingly with joy all at once. What was this spicy wing of deliciousness and where can I get more!?

Luckily for me, my mom was just as in love with hot wings as I was and luckily for us, my mom had gotten a buffalo wing recipe from a random man in a shoe store and so, a family recipe was born. My mom’s wings are hot and tangy and sweet and spicy. They pair perfectly with blue cheese. However, now that I keep kosher, there is no pairing of blue cheese and hot wings. Therefore, I’ve had to come up with alternatives to bring my favorite pairings to life. This vegetarian version is great for bringing to a picnic, serving your family on Shabbat or simply disguising a healthy weekday meal with a punch of flavor.

You’ll see that this recipe does not include blue cheese but I do recommend it. Heck, me being me, I recommend ANY AND ALL CHEESE. I also recommend having fun with your toppings. I enjoy some bread and butter pickles and some classic mayonnaise and maybe some grilled onions. But truly, the best thing about these burgers are that they can be built to your taste buds. Enjoy!

Quinoa burgers with toppingsBuffalo Quinoa Burgers

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked red quinoa
  • 1 cup Cannelloni beans, mashed
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
  • 1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 3/4 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 6 Tbsp. Canola oil

 

Directions:

1. In a bowl, combine the quinoa, mashed Cannelloni beans, bread crumbs, egg, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

2. Mix well to moisten the ingredients and then mix in the shredded cheddar cheese. Mix well again and form into 4 or 5 balled patties (bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball).

3. In a skillet, heat 4 Tbsp. of oil over medium heat. Wait until oil is hot and then add 2 quinoa burger balls in at a time. Using a flat spatula, press down the ball until a thick patty forms.

4. Cook until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes per side. During the last minute or so of cooking add the an optional layer of cheese, cover the pan and cook 2-3 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Add 2 additional tablespoons of oil into the skillet after the first batch of burgers is cooked.

buffalo quinoa burgers and fixings

Sweet Summer Kugel Bites

  

Sweet summer kugel

For summer, we are taking inspiration from the layers of an Italian lasagna as well as the sweetness of kugel. Lasagna is of course a classic Italian dish. Its creamy, rich filling is a perfect comfort food for the chilly days of fall and winter. In Jewish kitchens, noodle kugel (Lokshen Kugel) makes an appearance several times a year. It is a great dairy option for a Yom Kippur break fast and a favorite for Shavuot when we eat dairy.

These mini sweet summer lasagna-kugels let you take the in-season fruits of summer and layer them between a delicious ricotta filling and pasta. They are great served warm with some grilled fruit for a sweet and light meal at breakfast, lunch or dinner, or they can be enjoyed straight from the fridge for a little after-camp snack or picnic treat. This can be made as a single dish in a large pan or as individual minis in a muffin tin.

Sweet Summer Mini Kugels

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 lasagna noodles or 6 oz. of wide egg noodles
  • 1 cup of whole milk ricotta
  • 2 oz. of cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp. of sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups of fruit preserves or a bowl of cherries, a bowl of raspberries and a bowl of apricots (about 2 cups of stewed fruit)
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream

 

summer kugel prep

Directions:

1. Begin by cooking and straining the pasta so it has time to cool.  Add 1 Tbsp. of sugar and the vanilla into the pasta water and bring it to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente (as noted on the box). If you are using muffin tins for individual kugels, I recommend using the egg noodles because they fit more easily into the cups. Preheat your oven to 350°F.

2.  You can use preserves if time is an issue, but this is a perfect way to use up fruit that is becoming a bit overripe or isn’t so pretty anymore and you want to cook with it. In a small saucepan, add the fruit (peel and all is OK) and a tablespoon of water. Cover the pot and cook on medium-low until the fruit softens. Then take the lid off and cook on low until the fruit breaks down into the consistency of a compote or apple sauce.

ricotta egg mixtureFruits with skins like apricots will separate from the skins and you can just pull out the skins from the pot. If you like your kugel to be a bit sweeter, then add some sugar to the mixture a teaspoon at a time to taste.

3. Set the preserves aside in a bowl to cool.

4. In a bowl, mix the ricotta, egg, lemon zest and 2 Tbsp. of sugar. If you are using the egg noodles, once the pasta has cooled, add 1 Tbsp. of the ricotta mixture to the pasta and toss to coat.

kugel filling

5. Now you layer your kugel (like a traditional lasagna). If you are using lasagna noodles, add 1 Tbsp. of the ricotta mixture to the bottom of a 9×9 inch glass baking dish. Then add a layer of noodles, a layer of the ricotta mixture, a layer of fruit, a layer of lasagna noodles and a thin layer of the ricotta on top.

If you are using egg noodles and a muffin tin, put cupcake liners in each spot. Take the noodles that have been tossed with a little of the ricotta mixture and put a thin layer of them on the bottom. Add a layer of ricotta and a layer of fruit. The advantage of muffin tins is that you can do a variety of flavors. I did cherry, raspberry and apricot. Top the fruit with a layer of the egg noodles.

mini kugels ready to bake

6. Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes for the individual kugels until the top is lightly golden brown. For the larger kugel, cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Cook time depends on how juicy your fruit is. The top will be golden brown and the fruit will bubble up a little when done.

7. For the topping which can be drizzled on top, mix 1/2 cup of sour cream with 1 Tbsp. of sugar. Drizzle over slices at the table.

summer kugel with pineapple

Serve with a fruit salad or some grilled fruit for a full, fruity, sweet meal.

Tu Bishvat Marbella Chicken with Nutty Barley Pilaf

  

Cooked Chicken Marbella

Tu Bishvat is a celebration of the connections we have to nature and the new year of trees. When it comes to food, trees provide us with fruit and nuts. This nutty pilaf and Tu Bishvat Marbella chicken is an ode to both fruit and nuts.

If you grew up with a copy of The Silver Palate in your parents’ kitchen then Chicken Marbella was definitely on the menu for a special occasion. In the summer we dream of fresh juicy fruit, but come fall and winter, dried fruit becomes a decadent and rich treat. We add raisins to salads to bring in some sweetness. We nibble on dried apricots or pears served on a cheese plate or charcuterie board. Sweet dried papaya and pineapple and tart cranberries and cherries find themselves sweetening up trail mixes as well.

Olives, prunes, garlic and more

The plum however, gets a bad rap when dried. Unless you grew up noshing on them as a filling for hamentaschen or as part of your grandmother’s tsimmes, prunes continue to be as unpopular as Brussels sprouts once were. Prunes have a sweet richness almost like a fortified wine or Port. They add that sweetness and richness to this wonderful chicken dish that is perfect for a weeknight dinner or a special weekend meal.

What I love about this dinner is that both the pilaf and the chicken cook in the oven so all you have to do is prep everything and let it cook. The warm oven will keep you toasty and the smells wafting out once everything starts to cook is heavenly. You do, however, need to plan ahead a little to allow time for the chicken to marinate. I suggest prepping the chicken the night before, but in a pinch all you need is two hours of marinating time.

Tu Bishvat Marbella Chicken with Nutty Barley Pilaf
(makes 8-10 servings)

Ingredients:
For the marinade

  • 3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
    (about 2 full chicken breasts)
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup of dry oregano
  • 2 small heads of garlic or one med/lg head
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of prunes
    *Call them dried plums if it makes you happier
  • 1/2 c. of pitted green olives
    I like to mix two types for depth of flavour
  • 4-5 cornichons, sliced & 2 tsp. of the cornichon brine
    These can be found in jars or in bulk near the fancy cheeses or sometimes near the mustard and jarred olives at most grocery stores
  • 4 large bay leaves

 

For the chicken before cooking

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • I used an Albariño

 

For the Pilaf

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 cup of hulled barley
    Hulled barley takes longer to cook and has a nuttier chewier texture than pearl barley. Hulled barley works perfectly for this nutty dairy-free pilaf.
  • 1/2 cup of broken up vermicelli (1 inch-size pieces approx.)
    When I think of vermicelli, I think of rice vermicelli, but here you need an egg noodle or eggless noodle version of vermicelli. You can also use a thin spaghetti broken up into small pieces. DO NOT use rice vermicelli.
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. of pepper
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
    Do not use low salt stock or your pilaf will lack seasoning. If you choose low salt stock be sure to check for salt and season accordingly.
  • 1/2 cup blanched almonds
  • 1/2 a lemon, peeled with a vegetable peeler

 

Directions

Marinade:

1. The chicken will need to marinate for at least two hours or overnight. The pilaf cooks for 2-3 hours in the oven and the chicken will cook in the oven next to the pilaf for the last 40 minutes, so plan accordingly. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Chicken marinade

Mix the ingredients2. Place the chicken breasts and thighs in a large bowl (glass is best). Sprinkle the chicken with 2 tsp. of Kosher salt, 1 tsp. of pepper and 1/4 cup of oregano. Mix the chicken so that it is covered with the seasonings. If you have a garlic press, press the garlic cloves from both heads of garlic over the chicken. If you do not have a press, just mince the garlic finely. Mix the chicken one more time to spread the garlic around. Over the chicken, pour: 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup of olive oil.

3. Slice the cornichons into tiny rounds and toss them into the bowl with the cornichon brine. Add in the prunes, pitted olives and the bay leaves to the chicken as well. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (or at least 2 hours).

Pilaf & Chicken:

1. For the pilaf you will start by very coarsely chopping the 1/2 cup of blanched almonds and browning them on the stove in a large dry pan over medium high heat for 5-7 minutes. Do not step away or the nuts will go from blanched to burnt in seconds.

Vermicelli with nuts

2. Set the nuts aside in a bowl or plate and then add 1 Tbsp. of oil to the pan. Over medium high heat, heat the oil and when warm, toss in 1/2 cup of the broken vermicelli. Stir the vermicelli to coat with oil and continue cooking and stirring until the vermicelli are a dark golden brown. Set the vermicelli aside with the nuts.

Vermicelli barley pilaf3. Chop the onion and two cloves of garlic. Add 1 Tbsp. of olive oil to the pan, over medium heat. Toss the onion into the pan and sauté until it becomes translucent. Then, add in the minced garlic and 1 cup of barley. Sauté for 2 more minutes. In the pan, add the toasted vermicelli and almond. Toss to mix everything together.

4. Add everything from the pan into a 3 quart baking dish as well as 4 cups of chicken broth.

5. Place the dish in the oven and cook uncovered for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until the stock is
completely absorbed.

Uncooked chicken marbella

6. Now to finish the chicken. Take out a baking tray or two oven safe serving dishes that will fit all the chicken without crowding it. Arrange the chicken on your tray or serving dishes in a single layer. Pour the marinade, prunes, cornichons, bay leaves and olives around the chicken. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of brown sugar on top of the chicken. If you like a sweeter dish, you can use up to 1/2 cup of brown sugar. If you like tangy and vinegary dishes, 1/4 cup is plenty.

7. Pour 1/2 cup of white wine around the chicken and cook for 40 minutes at 350°F.

8. Once the chicken is cooked through, you can separate the pan juices to serve on the side and pour over the chicken and pilaf, or you can leave it together in the serving dish.

Whatever you do, be sure to spoon some sauce over the chicken and the pilaf before
digging in!

Looking for another chicken recipe for Shabbat? Try this easy Ginger Sesame Roast Chicken.