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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pesto Gorgonzola and Pine Nut Flatbread

My mom and I ordered a pizza with these toppings on it recently and we were wowed at the combination of the yummy flavors. So I did what I do best and I went home and made my own version :)  Using flat bread instead of pizza dough worked better because its quicker and you can control how many you make instead of ending up with a huge pizza.

This is a bit of a refined pizza because Gorgonzola cheese has a strong flavor, as does the pesto. But if you like these ingredients then you will love them together!

You can easily alter the quantities of this recipe to make however many pieces you want.

Makes 1 flat bread

-1 flat bread
-2 tablespoons pesto
-2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
-2 tablespoons Gorgonzola cheese crumbles

To make
-Spread the pesto evenly onto the flat bread. Sprinkle with pine nuts and Gorgonzola cheese.
-Toast in a toaster oven or a skillet until the cheese has melted and the flat bread has reached desired crispiness.
-Cut into 4 slices and serve
-Enjoy :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Arugula Salad (Salatet Jarjeer/ Wild Rocket)

I LOVE THIS SALAD. It's so crispy and tangy and refreshing. This is my staple daily salad that I make my family because my daughter really enjoys it and takes a second serving!

I copied this from various restaurants in Syria. It reminds me of summers with my family in the Middle East, which is partly why I like making it so often. The star of this salad is the sumac. Sumac is a small berry that gets dried and ground into a purple spice with a sour taste. I haven't seen this in chain grocery stores, but it is a standard spice in Middle Eastern markets. The rest of the salad is very simple, especially since the arugula is pre-washed, which makes it an ideal candidate for weeknight dinners.

Serves 4 adults

-1 package arugula leaves
-2 large tomatoes, diced
-4 Persian cucumbers, diced
-2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
-juice of 1 lemon

-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-1 heaping tablespoon sumac (purple colored spice found in Middle Eastern markets)
-salt to taste

-In a bowl combine the arugula, tomatoes, cucumbers and red onions. Top with lemon juice, olive oil, sumac and salt. Stir to combine and serve immediately to avoid wilting.
-Enjoy :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Chocolate Date Bars

I learned this delicious, NO BAKE, dairy-free dessert from my mother in law years ago and I immediately fell in love. These bars are a mix between the Middle Eastern culture (dates) and the American culture (cereal)...however, I say the spices I've added push them over to the Middle Eastern side ;-)

The bars freeze extremely well, just make sure to wrap and seal tightly. I really enjoy making a pan and having them around because they are quick to put together for last minute guests, and will last for quite a while in the refrigerator. Many mornings I have a bar of these as a sweet yet healthy start to my day with my coffee.

Dates are an excellent source of fiber and potassium, and their natural sugars give a boost of energy. This means you can enjoy them guilt free ;) Use coconut oil and non dairy chocolate chips to easily make this recipe vegan.

Makes about 32 bars

-2 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter)
-13 ounce baking dates (pitted and pureed)
-optional 2 tablespoons water
-4 cups crushed Honey Bunches of Oats (or corn flakes) cereal
-optional: 1 teaspoon each ground cardamom, anise seeds and cinnamon powder (I use all of these)
-1/2 cup shredded coconut (either sweetened and unsweetened)
-1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (or milk chocolate, but the bars will be sweeter)
-1 teaspoon coconut oil (or vegetable oil)

Sprinkled with coconut and ready for the chocolate
-Melt the butter in a saucepan (this can easily be done in a microwave instead) and add pitted dates. Stir together until the dates are softened. If the mixture feels too firm, add the optional water 1 tablespoon at a time until you have a spreadable consistency. Remove the pot from heat and stir in crushed cereal, ground cardamom, anise seeds and cinnamon powder. Use your hands (I recommend wearing disposable gloves) and mash the mixture together until everything is well incorporated. It will be really hot so you may want to give it a few minutes to cool down before mixing with your hands.
-Spray or butter a 9x13 inch pan and then spread date mixture evenly into the pan. Smooth out the top with the palm of your hand, then sprinkle the coconut evenly over the date mixture.
-Melt chocolate and oil for 30 seconds, then stir until all the chocolate is melted. Spread over the date mixture and refrigerate until the chocolate has set, about 30 minutes.
-Remove from the fridge and let the pan sit out for 5 minutes to soften a bit. Cut into 1/2 inch x 1 inch thick rows or any desired shape.
-Enjoy :)

All cut up and ready to be plated
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