Halva Icing

This recipe hails from a dessert called Tahini Chocolate Icebox Cake from Fine Cooking magazine. It yielded a chewy overly-sweet loaf-like thing that was not impressive. However, the dessert was made partially using a tahini/whipped cream concoction that was absolutely delicious. 

The mixture of tahini with whipped cream and sugar reminded me of halva and I think it would be a tasty icing for a chocolate cake.

A note: Because this uses a whipping cream base instead of butter, a cake iced with this will be light and fluffy but need to stay fairly cool so it doesn't melt off. Keep the cake in the fridge until ready to serve.

3 cups heavy cream, cold
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup well-stirred tahini
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt

Chill the bowl of a stand mixer and the whisk attachment in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Remove from fridge, add the cream to the bowl and whip on medium speed until just thickened, about 1 minute.

Add the confectioners' sugar, tahini, vanilla, and salt, and whip the cream on medium-high speed until it hold stiff peaks, about 2 minutes. 

Keep refrigerated until ready to ice your favorite chocolate cake. Enjoy!


Healthy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

Just the taste of fall you need and kids love ‘em!

3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
4 Tbsp milk
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Dash of cloves
Dash of ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour, wheat or white will do
1 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
6 oz. chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. 
2. Mix the wet ingredients together. Then add sugar, salt, and spices. 
3. Mix in dry ingredients. 
4. Scoop dough onto ungreased cookie sheet. Using a cookie scoop is preferred. However, if you want the cookies to look more flat, flatten them before baking as they will keep their shape very well while baking.
5. Bake for 10 minutes, then let set for 5 more.  

Enjoy! You can freeze these as well with excellent results. 


Fruit Leather

This recipe calls for apricots but can be applied to other fruits as well. 

2 cups apricots, pitted and diced
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees F, or oven’s lowest setting. 
2.  Place all ingredients in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves. 
3. Place all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth. 
4. Using a 11x17 pan lines with a Silpat, pour the mixture into the pan and spread with a spatula (or a cake frosted works great) to get the desired thickness of your fruit leather. 
5. Place in oven for 4-6 hours, until the leather is no longer sticky. Keep the oven propped open with a wooden spoon. 
6.  Remove from oven and allow to cool. Place on wax paper and roll up. Cut into smaller pieces with kitchen scissors or a aerated knife. 


Roasted Beets

I cannot believe I am posting this recipe because my 10 year old self disliked beets to the core. I still wasn’t a fan of them until tonight when I picked up the CSA box and there were 6 beets staring at me. This recipe made me enjoy beets. You’ve got to try it!

6 beets (gold or red or a mix), peeled and cut into 1inch cubes
2 Tb Olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tb rosemary 
Salt to taste
Pepper, freshly ground to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
2. Place oil in large bowl. Wash, peel and cut beets. Place beets in bowl and stir to coat with oil. 
3. Mince garlic and add to bowl. Strip rosemary branches of herb and add to bowl. Mix everything well. Add salt and pepper. 
4. Place on baking sheet and put in oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes, turning at least once for good browning. 
5. After removing from oven, add additional salt as needed. Enjoy!



Horchata from scratch. Enough said.

7 cups water
1 1/3 cup long grain white rice
2-3 Mexican cinnamon sticks, broken up
2/3 cups granulated sugar, or to taste
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup milk, any kind

Combine rice and cinnamon sticks with 5 cups of water in a blender and coarsely grind. Transfer to a large bowl and soak at room temperature for 3 - 8 hours.

Puree the rice mixture in a blender (in batches, if necessary) until smooth. Strain through cheesecloth or a fine sieve at least twice. Mix in the sugar, the remaining 2 cups water, and milk. Transfer to a pitcher and chill.

Stir horchata well before serving. Pour over ice for the perfect summer treat.

Makes approximately 2 quarts.


Black Sesame Pear Sweet Loaf

This dense sweet bread is the perfect companion to a cup of tea on Sunday afternoon. I made this recipe using a mix of black sesame seeds and nigella seeds which are like black sesame seeds but perhaps less sweet. TR and I picked up a packet of them in Ireland and found ourselves wondering what to do with them. This loaf was the delicious answer.

1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
1 cup almond meal or almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons + 1/2 cup black sesame seeds
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 medium firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch pieces

Preheat the oven to 325℉. Butter one large or two smaller loaf pans. Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, the almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 2 tablespoons sesame seeds in a medium bowl. Grind the remaining 1/2 cup of sesame seeds in a spice grinder or a food processor to form a thick paste.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until well combined. Add sesame paste and beat until blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and egg yolk, beating until pale and fluffy. On low speed, beat in the flour mixture in three installments, alternating with the buttermilk in two installments. Toss the pear with 2 tablespoons flour and fold into the batter.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean: approx 1 hour, 40 minutes for a larger loaf pan, or 50 minutes for smaller pans.

Adapted from www.bonappetit.com


Doro Wat (National Dish of Ethiopia)

This spicy dish is a new favorite at our house. Serve with homemade Injera if you're feeling ambitious or basmati rice if you're not. Typically this dish is served very hot using a spice called berbere. You can make this on your own (google a recipe) or can be bought at specialty grocery stores. I picked some up at our local food co-op. This recipe is medium spicy but feel free to increase or reduce the berbere as you see fit.

Also, this recipe calls for Tej, a traditional Ethiopian honey wine. I imagine this is also available at specialty stores but you can do as I did and substitute 1/2 cup white wine with 1 ts honey mixed in. If you're using cooking wine, reduce the overall salt in the recipe to compensate.

Finally, the recipe I altered called for double the cooking times you'll see below. If you have time, you may want to simmer everything longer, but I found that the times listed below were adequate to create the flavor and texture this recipe is going for.

2.5-3 lbs chicken thighs cut into 1 inch pieces or 3 chicken breasts cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 Tb lemon juice
5 Tb butter
2 Tb olive oil
2 cups yellow onions finely minced (almost a puree) in a food processor
1 Tb minced garlic
1 Tb minced ginger
1/4 cup berbere
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 ts salt
1/2 cup Tej or honey wine
4 hard boiled eggs, shells removed, pierced all over with a fork

1) Place the chicken pieces in a bowl and soak with the lemon juice. Let it sit at room temperature while you prepare the rest of the food.

2) Heat two tablespoons of butter and the olive oil in a dutch oven style pot. Add the onions and saute, covered, over low heat for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3) Add the garlic, ginger, and 1 tablespoon butter and continue to saute, covered for another 10 minutes stirring occasionally.

4) Add the berere and 2 remaining tablespoons of butter and saute, covered for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5) Add the chicken pieces, chicken stock, salt, and wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6) Add the boiled eggs and simmer on low heat, covered, for another 7 minutes.

Serve warm with injera or rice.



2 1/4 c flour
1/2 ts baking soda
1/4 ts salt
2 Tb lebkuchengewurz (see below)
1/2 ts finely ground white pepper
1/4 c almond meal (not almond flour)
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/4 c honey
1/4 c molasses
5 Tb unsalted butter
3 Tb milk or cream
1 large egg

For the glaze:
2 1/2 c powdered sugar
3-4 Tb hot water
anise oil or almond extract

For the lebkuchengewurz: Traditional German gingerbread spice
1 1/2 Tb ground cinnamon
2 ts ground cloves
1/2 ts ground allspice
1/2 ts ground coriander
1/2 ts ground green cardamom
1/2 ts ground ginger
1/2 ts ground star anise
1/4 ts ground mace
1/4 ts ground nutmeg

Mix the spices together and pour into a jar. You'll have some leftover after making this pfeffernusse recipe.

1) In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, lebkuchengewurz, white pepper, and almond meal. Set aside.

2) Combine the brown sugar, honey, molasses, butter, and cream or milk in a medium saucepan and heat, stirring frequently until melted and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool for five minutes. Stir in the flour mixture. Once incorporated, stir in the egg until thoroughly combined. The dough will have a glossy sheen and be very sticky.

3) Turn the dough out onto plastic wrap, pat into a square and wrap tightly. Refrigerate at least overnight or up to two days. DON'T SKIP THIS STEP! The cookies will be a sticky mess if you try to roll them without chilling.

4) Preheat over to 350 degrees. Remove the dough from the plastic wrap and immediately cut into two equal halves. Put one half back in the fridge. Cut the second piece into two more equal halves and roll each half into a strand about 3/4 inch thick. Slice the stands into seven pieces each and roll each piece into a ball. Work quickly while the dough is still chilled. Repeat with the half of the dough left in the fridge for a total of 28 cookies.

5) Place the cookies on baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool completely.

6) To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, water (more for thinner glaze, less for thicker, what ever you prefer) and either anise or almond flavoring. If your anise is like mine, you only need a TINY bit or it will be very strong.

7) Dip each cookie in the glaze and set on wire rack to harden.




Homemade pickles that are great alone or paired with a sandwich!

1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp crushed red peppers
1 tsp thyme
2 cucumbers, sliced

Place all ingredients in a jar and shake lightly to thoroughly mix.  Let sit for at least an hour. These keep for two weeks and get better with age. Easy and quick! 

Recipe from CSJ


Gingerbread Muffins with an Orange Zing

1 small/medium ripe banana
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
zest of 1/2 and orange
1 tsp orange extract
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 cups flour

Preheat oven to 400℉. Grease 12 muffin cups.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the banana  and egg together using a fork until only small lumps remain. Use a spatula to stir in the vanilla, orange zest, orange extract, spices, and salt.

Add the oil, molasses and milk, incorporating fully between each ingredient. Add the sugars and mix. Stir in the baking powder and soda. Fold in the flour just until combined. Don't over mix.

Pour into 10-12 muffin cups. Bake for 10 minutes at 400℉ and then reduce temperature to 375℉ and bake for 7-9 minutes more until a toothpick comes out clean. For moister muffins, remove muffins from oven when toothpick comes out with just a bit of crumbly batter.

Cool for 5 minutes. These tasty muffins are best served warm and are delicious with butter.

Adapted from recipe from Fork Knife Swoon.


Warm Moroccan Chicken and Sweet Potato Salad

For the Chicken:
3 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (1 1/2 to 2 lb. total)
1 tsp. mild curry powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt

For the Salad:
2 tsp. mild curry powder
1 Tbs. ground cumin
7 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch dice (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Remove the skin from the chicken and discard. Place the chicken in a large saucepan with the curry powder, cumin, and salt. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the chicken is tender, 20 minutes. Remove from the pan and discard the liquid. Let the chicken cool.

When the chicken is cool, remove the meat from the bone and tear into pieces. Set aside.

Heat the oven to 375℉. Mix the curry powder, cumin, and 1/12 tsp. salt. Toss half of the spice mixture with 1 Tbs. of oil and the sweet potatoes. Spread in a baking pan and roast until tender, 30 minutes.

Toss the almonds and pumpkin seeds with the remaining spice mixture and 1 Tbs. of oil, place on a baking sheet, and toast in the oven until the almonds are seeds are golden, 10-12 minutes. Set aside.

For the dressing. whisk the vinegar, garlic, and remaining 5 Tbs. of oil.

When the potatoes are done, add the chicken pieces, almonds, pumpkin seeds, tomatoes, green onions, chopped cilantro, and dressing. Mix well.

Serves 6


Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Gorgonzola, and Brown-Butter Pecans

10 oz. Brussels sprouts, trimmed (2 cups)
1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb dried ear shaped pasta (the recipe I followed asked for orecchiette, but you could use medium shells)
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans (walnuts will also work)
1 large shallot, minced (may substitute with a couple cloves of garlic)
1/2 cup cream or milk
1/2 cup Gorgonzola, crumbled
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

Position a rack in the lower third of the over, set a heavy rimmed baking sheet on the rack and heat the oven to 500℉. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil over high heat.

In a food processor, slice the Brussels sprouts. Transfer them to a large bowl, drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss until well coated. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and spread the sprouts on it in a single layer. Roast, stirring once halfway through the cooking time, until the sprouts are tender and flecked with charred bits, 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions.

In a medium heavy-duty skillet, melt 1/2 Tbs. of the butter over medium heat. Add the nuts and cook, stirring frequently, until the butter is deeply browned and the pecans are toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Melt the remaining 1/2 Tbs. butter in the skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots (or garlic) and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the cream/milk and bring to a simmer. Off the heat, add the Gorgonzola and stir until melted.

Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add the Brussels sprouts, Gorgonzola sauce, and lemon juice and toss well.


Adapted from recipe in CookFresh



I learned how to make this recipe from an Indian friend of mine and it is amazingly easy and very delicious.

1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 Tb vegetable oil in a bowl to moisten fingers when forming bread

1. Mix flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar together.
2. Whisk milk and egg together.
3. Slowly add milk/egg mixture to dry ingredients to form a dough.  It should not be too sticky.  If so, add more flour.
4. From dough into golf size pieces.
5. Roll out dough balls thinly and cook over skillet on the stove.  Flipping after about 2 minutes.
6. Brush butter over the top, if desired, and serve.