Pumpkin Gingerbread

3 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
3-1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 to 10-cup Bundt pan.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together sugar oil and eggs until smooth. Add water, pumpkin, ginger, allspice, cinnamon and cloves. Beat on low speed until combined.

Add dry ingredients until just mixed. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes – or until tester inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs. Let cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to wire rack to finish cooling.

If desired, frost with tofutti cream cheese icing.

Glazed Apple Cake

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup sugar, divided
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup margarine, softened, divided
3 ounces tofutti cream cheese
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup nondairy creamer mixed with 1 teaspoon vinegar
¼ cup apricot preserves
2 teaspoons apple juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch springform pan.
In a medium bowl, combine apples, lemon juice, ¼ cup sugar and cinnamon.
In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder.
In a mixing bowl, beat remaining ¾ sugar, 6 tablespoons margarine and tofutti cream cheese and light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Add flour mixture alternately with nondairy creamer mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.

Pour into prepared pan. Arrange apples over batter. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons margarine and brush over apples. Bake for about 50 minutes or until tester inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs.

Combine preserves and juice and microwave on high until melted – about 30 seconds. Brush over apples. Cool.

Zucchini Tarts

Makes 24 mini shells

Easy, delicious and elegant. This is a great way to use inexpensive and readily available zucchini.

Tart Shells:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening (use the Earth Balance shortening made with canola oil if you are health conscious)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

Or use store bought mini tart shells

Filling:

4 medium zucchini, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup margarine, divided
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, minced
1/4 cup minced onion
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 cup tofutti sour cream
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/4-1/2 teaspoon black pepper, to taste
hot sauce, to taste

For the shells: Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl; cut in the shortening with two forks or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle ¼ cup water evenly over the surface. Stir with a fork until the dough just sticks together (another 1-2 TB water may be necessary). Shape the dough into a ball. Break off pieces of dough approximately the size of ping-pong balls. Press each piece of dough into the bottom of an ungreased muffin cup of a standard-sized muffin pan, pushing the dough up to almost the top of the muffin cup. Make sure the dough is pressed tightly against the sides of the muffin cup as to prevent shrinkage while baking. Prick the bottom and sides of each tart shell several times with a fork. Bake at 400° for 10-12 minutes or until slightly browned. Let cool and remove each tart shell from the muffin pan, using a fork. 



For the filling: Place the zucchini and salt in a colander, stir to combine, and let sit for 20 minutes to drain out any liquid. Squeeze well to remove any remaining liquid and set zucchini aside. In a medium skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of margarine over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until soft and most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons margarine in the skillet. Add the onions and cook until softened. Add the zucchini and basil to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms back in, when warm, remove from heat, stir in tofutti sour cream. Taste and add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste. Fill the pastry shells with the mixture and serve warm. 



Store the zucchini and tart shells separately if not serving immediately. To warm, heat oven to 350 degrees. Fill shells with zucchini and rewarm 20 minutes.

A Taste of Sweetness


Many GKC readers request recipes and products for children and adults that have food sensitivities and allergies. Although this is not our specialty, GKC is fortunate to have other readers and friends who have expert experience and advice. Tamar Warga, mother of 10 children, 4 with severe allergies shares some of her personal experience and recipes for a family with allergic children. She has written a Rosh Hashannah e-cookbook called, “A Taste of Sweetness” (she wrote a Passover e-cookbook also, called “A Taste of Freedom”. Through the crucible of allergic emergencies, this cookbook was forged.

GKC spoke to Tamar and she shared how she created and adapted her life to meet the needs of her family, as if parenting 10 children was already not a full time job.

Here is her story, “My first experience with food allergies was when my oldest son was 15 months old. After eating scrambled eggs, he began rubbing his eyes and breaking out in hives around his eyes and the bridge of his nose. My first impulse was to bathe him (thinking he had rubbed food into his eyes). When I realized the rash was spreading quickly I called his pediatrician who advised “give him Benadryl and go to the nearest ER if he shows any signs of difficulty breathing.” DIFFICULTY BREATHING?!

Over the next few months his food allergy list grew to include tree nuts, peanuts, melon, pineapple, and kiwi. Thankfully, my oldest son outgrew most of his food allergies by the age of three. Little did I know that a few years later we’d be forced to deal with his twin brothers, food allergies that would make his experience look like a stroll in the park.

Twin boys with allergies? Yup, identical twins with identical multiple severe food allergies. They were miserable from the get go even when they were exclusively breastfed (reacting to the allergens in my diet- unbeknownst to me). Their “no list” included eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, dairy, wheat, oats, all grains (oats, spelts, etc…).Reactions were frequent even when the ingredients weren’t problematic. Cross-contamination and even skin contact would elicit reactions. Thank Gd the ER was close by. At first, finding a “yes list” for them was overwhelming.

Overwhelming, but not impossible. I did manage to find things for them (and their younger brother who is also food allergic) to eat that were not only edible but enjoyable. They were my inspiration for my first cookbook “A Taste of Freedom” (Allergy friendly Passover Cookbook) and for my latest one ” A Taste of Sweetness”. My hope is that other people who have to avoid common allergens will see that living with allergies while challenging can be very sweet.”

GKC previewed A Taste of Sweetness. It’s easy, delicious, allergic sensitive recipes that is available as an e-book through this link. A Taste of Sweetness celebrates the flavors, textures, and traditions of Rosh Hashana cooking.

All recipes are dairy and nut free. Most recipes are egg-free, and without fish. Many are gluten free as well.

A Taste of Sweetness is just $5. Click here to receive the link and start enjoying Tamar’s delicious recipes like Pomegranate Leek Quinoa and Honey Chicken for Rosh Hashanah today.

Read recipe for Eggless Round Challah.

My New Favorite BBQ Sauce

I am not sure if it’s because I am in charge of the kitchen or if it’s because I am home earlier than my husband, but I am the one who barbeques in our family. And aside from the bbq smell that lingers on my clothing and hair, I love it. I love experimenting with different sauces and meats. I love the quick cooking and all the gadgets and I love that my kids eat up every bite.

Lately, I have been experimenting with BBQ sauce and am excited to share my new favorite. It is fantastic on chicken, meat, burgers, and lamb. I also used the leftover sauce as the base on a Roasted Vegetable Tart.

Drum roll please….

My New Favorite BBQ Sauce

Roasted Vegetable Tart

Is Your Lettuce Lifeless?

Crispy green lettuce is the most sought after leafy vegetable, for both salads and sandwiches. Lettuce is rich in vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin K, Vitamin A and iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium. Best yet, it is helpful to maintain a healthy metabolism.. Lettuce is high in dietary fiber, which aids digestion and helps those suffering from constipation. Some say that the juice of lettuce mixed with rose oil and applied to the forehead can help ease a painful headache.

In my house, we use a lot of lettuce and keeping it crisp is crucial. No one wants unappetizing, limp and wrinkled lettuce in your refrigerator when you bought it only two days before. Storage is key.

Here are our best GKC tips on how to buy and store lettuce:

1. In the store, choose the leaves that look crispy and bright in color. Avoid wilted leaves that are shriveled at the edges. Looking for bright color and perky edges should help you differentiate between quality lettuce and those that arrived several days before.

2. The main storage problem is usually too much moisture. This dampness condenses on the leaves and suffocates them. The key is to store the lettuce wrapped in damp paper towels and sealed in a Ziploc bag. This will absorb the extra water without dehydrating the leaves. Store this lettuce in your crisper drawer, if you have one, otherwise store it with other vegetables.

3. Do not pile lots of other vegetables on top of the lettuce. It will bruise and become wilted.

4. Store leftover salad with a damp paper towel on top of the salad. Do not cover it with plastic wrap. This will stay surprisingly well for a day or two without become brown or wilted.

Try these great salads with your crispy lettuce
Basic Vinaigrette Salad
Spring Salad with Portobello Mushrooms
Red Leaf Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Pecans

Raspberry Almond Muffins

These are a little more effort but they are worth it. They taste almost like sufganiyot.

Yield: 12 to 14 muffins

Batter:
1-3/4 cups flour
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup (1 stick) margarine
1 egg
¾ cup tofutti sour cream
1 teaspoon almond extract

Topping:
1/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons guar
2 tablespoons margarine
1/3 cup sliced almonds

Filling:
1 (8-ounce) package tofutti cream cheese
1 egg
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup raspberry jam or preserves, slightly warmed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 14 standard muffin cups or line with paper liners.

For Batter: In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Using a fork, cut in margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, sour cream and almond extract. Stir into dry ingredients until just moistened.

For Topping: In a small bowl, stir together flour and sugar. Using a fork, cut in margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in almonds and set aside.

For Filling: Beat together tofutti cream cheese, egg, sugar and vanilla until smooth.

Fill prepared muffin cups halfway with batter. Top with filling and then jam. Cover with remaining batter and sprinkle with topping.

Fill empty muffin cups with water to prevent burning. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before removing to wire rack.

Sweet Potato Kugel

Everyone is rediscovering sweet potatoes – they are appearing in salads, in soups, in kugels and even alone! This is an easy way to add a little nutrition to your Shabbos side.

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked, and mashed
½ cup soy milk (I like the vanilla) or nondairy creamer
2 eggs
½ cup sugar
1/8 cup canola oil
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Topping:

2 tablespoons canola oil
¾ cup cornflakes
½ cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch pan.
In a large bowl, mix all kugel ingredients together and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix topping ingredients. Sprinkle over kugel. Bake for 10 minutes more.

Fennel, Red Pepper and Corn Salad

This is a great spring and summer dish when the vegetables are fresh and crisp.

2 ears corn
2 bulbs fennel, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
½ red onion, diced
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Remove corn kernels from cob. Place in a large mixing bowl along with other ingredients. Mix well, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Chunky Oatmeal Cookies

photo: nancy's recipes

Makes about 3-1/2 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) margarine, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 cups old-fashioned oats
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with silpat mats or parchment paper and lightly grease.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together margarine and sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla. On low speed, add flour, baking soda, baking powder and oats. Stir in nuts, chocolate chips and coconut.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for about 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Let rest on cookie sheet 2 minutes before removing to wire rack to finish cooling.

Seared Salmon with Coconut Tomato Sauce


Serves 4

I made this for dinner last night and it was a big hit. Sweet from the coconut but zesty and full of Indian flavors from the garam masala. I served it with rice and roasted vegetables.

4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon fresh chopped garlic
1 ½ teaspoons garam masala (if you do not have this use ½ teaspoon of fennel and ½ teaspoon cardamom)
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
1 tablespoon ground coriander, plus 1/2 teaspoon to season salmon
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup coconut milk
Pinch salt and freshly ground pepper
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets

For the sauce: 
Put 2 tablespoons canola oil into a large skillet over low-med heat and add ginger and garlic. Sauté for 30 seconds and stir in garam masala, mustard and ground coriander; cook for 10 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes, stirring well. Pour in the coconut milk and simmer for about 15 minutes, until sauce is thickened. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if necessary. 



For the salmon: 
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons canola oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, season the salmon fillets with 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sear them on each side for 6 – 7 minutes, until they are just cooked through. Put the salmon on a plate and ladle some sauce over it. 


Always Chocolate

In Maurice Sendak’s children’s book, “Chicken Soup with Rice”, he suggests that “All seasons of the year are nice for eating chicken soup with rice.” That’s how I feel about chocolate. There is no need of an excuse, an event or a Hallmark card occasion. Chocolate is the go-to, feel-good treat all year ’round. And nowadays they even suggest it has some health value. So go for it. Here are some of our favorite – and easiest – chocolate recipes to satisfy that craving. We’d love to try yours…

Peanut Butter Fudge Brownie Bars
Chocolate Pound Loaf
Easy (Almost) Everything Brownies

Chocolate, Chocolate and More Chocolate


Chocolate is in the air and I am happy to report that I have discovered a great chocolate decorating pen, the Cuisipro Deluxe Decorating Pen, available through amazon.com. If you’re used to giving your kids amoxicillin with those plastic syringes, then this should be a no-brainer. It works the same way! It’s made for klutzes like me who just can’t work a pastry bag and, best of all, it’s only $9.99. Now that’s the kind of kitchen tool I like. And you will too….

Mini Moroccan Lamb Burgers with Pareve Lemon Cream Sauce

This is a great and easy way to spice up a midweek meal. The lamb burgers are a refreshing and flavorful twist to a regular burger and the lemon sauce adds a coolness to the dish.

Makes 6 – 8 servings

For the lemon yogurt sauce:
1 pint tofutti sour cream
1 lemon, zested
4 tablespoons lemon juice
Kosher salt
12 slider buns or 1 challah, sliced

For the mini burgers:
2 pounds ground lamb
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups lettuce, torn into small pieces
4 ripe plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds

Make the sauce: 
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the pareve sour cream, lemon zest and juice. Season, to taste, with salt. Sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to use. Bring to room temperature before using. 



Make the burgers: 
Preheat the grill or grill pan. 

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and work together until they are fully incorporated. You’re your hands, gently form little balls about 1 to 1 1/2 inches big and place them on a parchment paper-lined baking pan. With a fork, flatten burgers to about 1/2-inch thick. 
Once the grill is hot, place them on the grill or grill pan and cook, about 2 to 3 minutes per side or until fully cooked through.

Slice buns and toast if you like. Serve burgers with lettuce, tomato, and lemon cream sauce.

Microwave Coffee Cup Scramble

My kids made this over and over again during the Passover holiday week. It gets nice and puffed up in the microwave. The cheese is melted and delicious mixed with the eggs.

2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper

Coat 12-oz. microwave safe coffee mug with cooking spray. Add eggs and milk; beat until blended.
Microwave on high for 45 seconds; stir. Microwave until eggs are almost set, 30 to 45 seconds longer.
Top with cheese; season with salt and pepper.

Choices with Sweeteners

Personally, I am not sure white sugar is quite as evil as its critics make it out to be, but clearly our society suffers from rising numbers of adults and children with obesity and other health related issues.

Recently I read that on average Americans consume 72 pounds of sugar a year; that’s 22 teaspoons a day and is more than 2 times what our grandparents ate. At first I thought, no way, not my family! But then I examined and gave some thought to the diet of most kids, including mine, special candy on every holiday, Shabbos food, Shabbos cereal (as we call it), treats in school, yogurts and granola bars all loaded with extra sweets, coffee with sweeteners, and more.

I am not suggesting a world without sweets but thought it might be appropriate to make a few suggestions about refined sugar. Try alternatives like honey, molasses, maple syrup, and agave instead of white sugar or brown sugar (which is essentially white sugar with a little molasses added for flavor and color). While these minimally processed sweeteners do count as added sugar and should still be used sparingly, they provide antioxidants and essential minerals and don’t cause as big a spike in blood sugar as refined sweeteners do.



Each has its own distinct flavor, which adds an extra dimension to food and beverages.

Honey is a go-to sweetener for yogurt, teas, challah, as well as compotes, fruit crisps, and cobblers. It’s filled with antioxidants. The darker the color the more it contains.

Maple syrup is especially good in granola, oatmeal, and some cakes. It’s rich in zinc and manganese so they help boost the immune system.

Molasses have an intense flavor that works perfectly in barbecue sauces and marinades. It has the highest nutritional value of all the sweeteners but the strongest and distinctive flavor.

Agave has the mildest flavor of the bunch; it dissolves easily, so it’s great in cold drinks and coffee. It has a low glycemic index and therefore a more moderate effect on blood sugar.

You can bake with all of these alternative sweeteners too; they tend to make baked goods very soft and moist. Depending on the recipe, you might need to experiment with the amount you use. Start by substituting 3/4 cup honey, maple syrup, or molasses for each cup of sugar, and reduce the liquid by 3 tablespoons. To substitute agave, use 2/3 cup agave nectar for each cup of sugar ( I often use it in my challah recipe) and reduce the liquid by 1/4 cup. Also, since these sweeteners will speed the browning process (the form of sugar they contain reacts more readily to heat), reduce the baking temperature by 25°F. Check for doneness at the usual time, but you may have to increase the baking time slightly.


Try some of these recipes that contain white sugar alternatives:

Maple Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Onions
Grilled Salmon with Honey Fruit Salsa
Baked Apples
Cocoa Brownies Sweetened with Agave Syrup

Garden Bon Bons


These seed balls look like perfect chocolate truffles but DON’T BITE! Inside they’re the novice gardener’s best friend.
A combination of clay, seed, and soil mixed to form a dense clod that can be tossed into the garden, then let rain and sun do their magic and voila, instant herb garden!

This ingenious invention and great packaging comes from Moultonology.com
I tried the the set with basil, chives, and parsley and they really work. Box set of 8 is just $15.
Also available in edible flower, herbal tea, and specialty basil.

Sautéed Chicken with Olive Tapenade

Chicken and olives are two of our favorite ingredients, thus together they are always a big hit. Use good quality olives if they are available in your area. If not any canned olive will still taste great. The olive tapenade can be served with fish like salmon, or halibut and is great on pita too.

1 garlic clove, crushed
1/3 cup pittted olives of your choice
3 tablespoons pitted kalamata olives
1 teaspoon drained capers
1-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Cooking spray
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Place garlic clove in a food ­processor; process until finely chopped. Add olives, kalamata olives, and capers. Pulse 10 times or until very finely chopped. With processor on, add olive oil, lemon zest, and crushed red pepper to mixture through food chute; process until combined.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle both sides of chicken evenly with freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt. Add chicken to pan; sauté 6 minutes on each side or until done. Serve chicken with tapenade.

Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake


photo by Francesco Tonelli

This is an easy to prepare and good all the time, go-to chocolate cake.

Cooking spray
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, divided
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract, divided
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons margarine
1/3 cup vanilla soy milk
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Coat a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray; dust with 2 teaspoons flour. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a saucepan bring water, margarine, and 1/4 cup cocoa to a boil, stirring frequently. Pour into flour mixture. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add soy milk, vinegar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and eggs; beat well. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 17 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack.

Glaze:
Combine margarine, soy milk, and remaining 1/4 cup cocoa in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in powdered sugar; stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla and pecans. Spread over hot cake. Cool completely on wire rack.