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Friday, October 31, 2014

Tisiyeh / Fattet Hummus (Garbanzo beans and pita bread in a tangy tahini yogurt sauce)

This dish is a Syrian staple mainly made for breakfast, and sometimes as a light supper. In the month of Ramadan its almost a requirement to have on the table for any dinner party. My experience has been that both kids and adults enjoy eating tisiyeh, so its something I make pretty frequently. It comes together relatively quickly and I usually have all the ingredients on hand. 

Syrian's are the kings of fatteh (any dish that includes pita bread soaked in a hot broth and topped with a sauce like the yogurt one provided below) and varieties include a version made with the garbanzo bean broth, oil and garlic and another made with pureed garbanzo beans and tahini. Today I'm sharing my family's favorite way to eat fatteh, which is with the a yummy, tangy, yogurt-based tahini sauce. 

Of course the traditional way to make this is with a POUND of clarified butter swimming on top, but with that exclusion it is a dish full of fiber, protein and essential carbs to start off the day.

Serves about 2-3 adults

-1 15 ounce can garbanzo (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
-4 cups water
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-2 pita bread loaves, pieced into 1x1 inch squares

-2 cups yogurt (of course this tastes best with full fat yogurt, but if I'm not making this for guests I use nonfat )
-1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
-1 1/2 tablespoons tahini paste (you can add an additional 1/2 tablespoon, but taste it first)
-1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses (optional but I strongly recommend)
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 clove minced garlic (optional, and often times I don't use this)

*optional garnishes:
-1 teaspoon Sumac
-1 teaspoon ground coriander
-1 teaspoon red chili powder or paprika
-2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
-2 tablespoons fresh pomegranate seeds
- 2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds or pine nuts

To make
-In a medium saucepan combine rinsed and drained garbanzo beans, water and salt. Bring water to a boil and then reduce heat to medium and let simmer for about 30 minutes (or until the beans are as soft as you like them)
-While the garbanzo beans are simmering, place the cup of bread in a deep medium sized serving dish and set aside.
-Place the yogurt in a bowl and stir to make smooth. Add the lemon juice, tahini, pomegranate molasses, salt and optional garlic and whisk together until well mixed. Taste the yogurt sauce with a piece of bread and make sure the salt is adjusted to your liking. You may choose to add more tahini for a thicker sauce, pomegrate molasses for a sweeter taste or lemon for more of a tang.
-Bring your serving dish with the bread inside over by the stove and ladle out 1 cup of the hot water from the garbanzo beans. Stir the water and bread around until the water absorbs the bread. Give it about a minute to see that the water has absorbed into the bread. You want the bread to get wet and soft, without dry pieces of bread or excess water. You can add a little more bread if you put too much water or a little more water if your bread is still dry.
-Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the garbanzo beans and add to the wet bread mixture. Stir together gently. You can save 1 tablespoon of the garbanzo beans as an optional garnish at the end.
-Add the yogurt sauce and mix to combine. Some methods of preparing tisiyeh do not mix the yogurt and just spread it in a layer over the bread and garbanzo beans. I like to mix it together.
-Garnish with optional spices and toppings and serve hot or at room temperature with pickles and black tea. Don't worry if you don't have all the garnishes, I got lucky for this photo and typically  I only make it with the spices and toasted nuts on top.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Asian Vegan Pasta Salad


In honor of National Pasta Day, I made this super quick, ridiculously easy pasta salad comes together in whatever length of time it takes you to chop up some veggies, thanks to a store bought sauce from Trader Joe's. I have a more complicated version that is more Thai based, with a fresh dressing but this one is way faster and really yummy, just the way a salad should be!  Since the dressing comes from Trader Joe's Soyaki sauce, there is not need to add any oil :) Feel free to switch out the veggies to suit your taste buds.

-8 ounces boiled pasta (I used a shiratake pasta that is essentially all fiber and no other carb)
-1 cup chopped kale (I used the mix from Trader Joe's that includes brussel sprouts and red cabbage)
-1 cup chopped carrots
-1 red pepper, diced
-4 green onions (scallion), finely diced
-1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
-1 cup chopped sugar snap peas
-1 teaspoon ground ginger
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
-3-4 tablespoons Trader Joes Soyaki sauce (similar to a sesame teriyaki)
-1/2 cup chopped cilantro or basil leaves

To make
-Once your veggies are chopped, toss together and serve!

*If making this in advance, mix the pasta with the Soyaki sauce and then layer the rest of the ingredients. Cover and place in refrigerator and toss right before serving.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Chai spiced pumpkin pancakes

This has been breakfast in our home for the last two mornings, and on her way out the door my daughter asked if she can have more after school :) I think its safe to say that almost every cook out there can relate when I say my heart sang with joy at that ultimate stamp of approval. The rule in my house is if I made it, they eat it, whether or not they like it. So when a dish gets a request to be after day...I know I have a winner.

This recipe is loosely adapted from my trusted Alice's Teacup cookbook. One of the things I changed is the type of tea used (another was completely removing the butter and also reducing the quantity of fat required). Spicing these pancakes with ground Chai adds another layer of flavor that takes them over the top. Chai tea includes warm flavors (like cinnamon, cloves and cardamom) and these spices pair beautifully with pumpkin. If you don't have Chai tea leaves at home, use a vanilla/honey flavored tea (nothing fruity please) or just increase the spices a bit listed in the recipe.

These are easy to customize, and I've tried a variety of favorites are pecan pieces, chocolate, butterscotch or cinnamon chips. When I add chocolate chips the pancakes become sweet enough to eat without syrup, but otherwise I add maple syrup and indulge in the perfect fall breakfast.

Makes about 16 medium sized pancakes

-2 teaspoons chai tea (I buy these as bagged tea and use 2 satchels)
-2 cups flour
-1/3 cup brown sugar
-2 teaspoons baking soda
-1 tablespoon baking powder
-1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
-1 teaspoon salt
-2 cups buttermilk*
-5 tablespoons vegetable oil
-4 eggs
-2 cups canned pumpkin
-optional add ins: variety of chocolate chips, dried fruit or nuts

To make
-Grind tea leaves in a coffee or spice grinder until they become a fine powder.
-Mix together ground tea, flour, sugra, baking soda, baking poser, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
-One by one, to the dry ingredients add the buttermilk, oil, eggs and pumpkin, mixing the batter after each ingredient is added.
-Let the batter rest for 15 minutes. Once the time is up, stir the batter and let it rest for another 15 minutes. Mix in optional add ins at this time.
-Preheat a frying pan or griddle on medium heat and add about 1/4 cup of batter. Let the pancake cook, untouched, for about 2 minutes or until it bubbles and starts to look dry. Carefully flip the pancake over and cook for about another 2 minutes.
-Serve with maple syrup and enjoy!

*Use the rest of your buttermilk to make coconut almond chocolate muffins or pumpkin chocolate cupcakes with pumpkin cream cheese frosting!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

S'mores Bars (Golden Graham and Marshmallow Krispies)

This combination has been brewing in my mind for a while now, but I've been so consumed with everything pumpkin that I haven't had a chance to make it. When I bake for my family I focus on healthy-er options, and I save the decadent stuff for a a time when I know I can share it immediately without sampling half the quantity on my own...because me + a fulfilled craving are a dangerous pair. I finally decided to make this one happen because I started to notice that my kids were stealing from the marshmallows and had opened the box of cereal despite explicit instructions not to even as I was making these s'mores bars I kept reaching for either the marshmallows or cereal and would find my self grasping thin air because one of my boys had run off with the packages :)

I've read a LOT of s'mores bar recipes online and have never been too tempted to stick with any of them. Either too many layers, ingredients that didn't belong in a s'more, or just way too long of a process to make a dessert that is in its essence delicious because of its simplicity. I present you with these babies...15 minutes TOPS in the kitchen and ready to eat almost right away...totally awesome, right?

Golden Grahams cereal is a crispy version of mini graham crackers, so they won't get too soft when mixed with hot marshmallows and break into crumbs. I use an equal ratio of marshmallow to cereal, which is a lot of marshmallow, but I like these bars to be sticky and can add up to an extra cup of cereal and still have a good texture. I found these tasted crunchiest the day I made them, otherwise the cereal absorbed some of the moisture from the marshmallows...which is also delicious, but you lose a little crisp. All I know is these were so good that I will probably never make regular Rice Krispy treats ever again...

Makes 12 rectangular bars

-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
-4 cups marshmallows + 1/4 cup (I like to use the mini ones as I find they melt faster)
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/2 cup marshmallow cream (or add another 1/2 cup marshmallows to the 4 cups above)
-4 cups Golden Grahams cereal
-1 cup milk chocolate chips + 1/4 cup chocolate chips
-1 teaspoon oil

To Make:
Sprinkling the chocolate chips
-Line a 7x11 inch baking dish with parchment paper (you could use an 8x8 inch pan and it would yield super thick bars or a 9x9 inch dish would give you slightly thinner bars). Spray with non-stick cooking spray (this probably isn't necessary but marshmallows can get pretty sticky and I didn't want to take any chances.)
-Melt butter on medium heat in a medium sized pot. Add 4 cups marshmallows, vanilla, salt and marshmallow cream and stir together with a silicon spatula until the marshmallows have melted and the ingredients are incorporated.
Look at that beautiful drizzle :)
-Remove the pot from the stove and stir in Golden Grahams cereal. Make sure the cereal and marshmallows are well coated but do not over-mix and break up the cereal.
- Pour mixture into the lined baking dish and sprinkle evenly with 1 cup chocolate chips and remaining 1/4 cup marshmallows (don't stir these into the pot because you don't want them to melt, and sprinkling them on when the mixture is in the baking pan will have given things a chance to cool down). Spray one hand with non-stick cooking spray and use that hand to push down the marshmallow and cereal mixture, taking care to press it down tightly and evenly.
-Melt 1/4 cup chocolate chips with 1 teaspoon oil in the microwave in 20 second intervals, stirring after each time just until melted. Drizzle melted chocolate all over the s'mores bars. Wait until the chocolate drizzle has set, then cut evenly in 12 bars.
-Serve and enjoy!!!

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pumpkin Spiced Chili

I craved a hearty chili for several weeks before making this. Normally I'm not a huge fan of beans, but this year I'm liking them more and more. I considered making this dish completely vegetarian, but a true chili recipe has to include a meat! Feel free to replace this with ground turkey, chicken, tofu, pieces of pumpkin, sweet potato or butternut squash. I think it would still taste delicious, but it just perfectly hit the spot for us with ground beef. I served this with homemade pumpkin cornbread and it was a meal that no one complained about...which in a house with 3 little ones is a rare occurrence! They especially loved the idea of customizing their own bowls and got creative with their combinations.

Chili is even more flavorful the next day and this is a GREAT slow cooker recipe! After browning the onions, garlic and ground beef transfer to a slow cooker, add the rest of the ingredients and let it simmer on low for a couple hours while you go about your day knowing that magic is taking place in your kitchen ;) If you are reheating the next day add a little water to thin out the chili as the beans will have soaked up the extra liquid and the flavors will be quite intense.

Serves about 4

-1 tablespoon oil
-1 cup chopped onion (about half of a large onion)
-5 garlic cloves
-1 tablespoon cumin seeds
-1/2 pound ground beef (I used 98% lean)
-2 tablespoons chili powder
-1 tablespoon coriander
-1/2 tablespoon all spice
-1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
-1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (a mixture of nutmeg, allspice, lemon peel, cloves and cinnamon)
-3 large tomatoes (or 1.5 cups canned tomato sauce)
-1 cup water (plus up to 1 cup more if your sauce is too thick)
-15 ounce can of cannellini beans (white kidney beans) drained and rinsed
-2 tablespoons pumpkin puree (optional...this adds more nutrition and gives the chili sauce a silky texture but is not critical for flavor)

Optional topping ideas
-Greek yogurt or sour cream
-shredded cheddar cheese
-diced tomato
-green onions
-corn chips

To make
Browning the onions and toasting the cumin seeds
-Heat a dutch oven (ceramic pot...or any other pot) for a few minutes until it gets hot. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and let it heat for about 30 seconds.
-Add onion and let it cook for about 2 minutes on medium high heat
-Using a food processor, pulverize the garlic and add to onions.
-Add cumin seeds and continue sauteing until the garlic and cumin seeds become fragrant and the onions are soft.
-Add ground beef, chili powder, coriander, all spice, ground ginger and pumpkin pie spice and cook meat for about 5 minutes. You don't want to over brown the beef. Just cook it until the juices run clear and don't break it up too finely as you cook it.
-Wash tomatoes and chop into 4 large chunks. Place in food processor and pulverize until they are saucy. Add the tomato puree to the ground beef. Place the cup of water in the food processor and swirl it around to get the remained tomato puree and bits of garlic, then add the water to the pot.
-Add the drained and rinsed can of cannellini beans to the meat and tomato mixture.
-Add the pumpkin puree and stir. Taste the chili and adjust the seasonings to your liking. This is a good time to add salt.
-Lower the heat, cover the pot and let your chili simmer for about 30 minutes or until the sauce is as thick as you like it and the beans and meat are soft.
-Top however you'd like and serve.
Pumpkin cornbread was the perfect side to soak up the chili sauce :)

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