Category: Side Dish

Mushroom Quinoa

Quinoa is my new favorite superfood. It is a protein-rich seed with a fluffy, slightly crunchy texture and somewhat of a nutty flavor. Although some consider it to be a grain, it is actually a relative to spinach and swiss chard, which is why some people eat it on Pesach. It is similar to couscous, with a chewier texture and more health benefits.

I first tasted mushroom quinoa at the newly opened Fresh Cafe in North Miami Beach back in March. The cafe was opened by the owners of The Fresh Diet with an emphasis on healthy, wholesome foods. They offer a classic breakfast menu, whole wheat pizza with various toppings, paninis, wraps, salads (with blue cheese crumbles and goat cheese) and smoothies. Although their menu includes some less-than-healthy options such as a buttered NY bagel, they encourage healthy eating (their menu notes: “heavy white pizza available upon request”). The winning items on the menu include a list of gourmet sandwiches including a Balsamic Glazed Roasted Vegetable Sandwich with Fresh Basil and Feta, Tarragon-Infused Salmon with Cheddar on a Spinach Tortilla, Balsamic-Reduction-Glazed Mushrooms, Shallots and Swiss Cheese on Seven Grain Bread, among others. I ordered a nicoise salad, which they served with sweet potatoes as a healthy alternative to the classic red potatoes. My husband had grilled salmon with a side of quinoa and roasted vegetables. Both were healthy-sized portions, flavorful and filling.

After tasting the quinoa there, I started making it more often at home. It has become a staple around here, served hot alongside a chicken dinner, or cold, as a salad at Shabbos lunch. My husband, and kids absolutely love it (as long as I call it “couscous” my kids are good!). This is, by far, our favorite recipe.

NOTE: I use Trader Joe’s low sodium vegetable broth in this recipe. It is fat free, low calorie, gluten free and organic. The stock is made using a variety of organic vegetables as well as carrot and onion juice concentrate and tomato paste which gives it a reddish tinge. The broth adds a delicious tomato-y flavor to the quinoa. If you cannot get Trader Joe’s broth, you can use Imagine, and add a tsp of tomato paste to the vegetables while they are sauteeing.

The Fresh Cafe
2214 NE 123rd Street
North Miami, FL 33181
Phone: 305-591-8848
Kosher Miami, cholov and pas Yisrael

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Savory Hamantaschen Trio

I am SO excited to post these delicious and festive savory Hamantaschen for Purim! Honestly I was more excited about making these into triangles, then about how they would taste. But once I gave them a try, I couldn’t even pick a favorite – they were all THAT good. I’m not gonna lie, making these Hamantaschen is time-consuming. But in my humble opinion, they are well worth the effort. You can make them for your Purim Seudah or give them out for Shalach Manos. You can probably even make them in advance and freeze them. Go ahead and get creative with the fillings. You can do a deli roll one – just cut up some turkey and pastrami into strips, mix it up with some bbq sauce or honey-mustard. Or try a brocolli, cauliflower or carrot filling. Really, anything goes. If you have more of a bagels ‘n lox kind of meal, you can make very large triangles with the puff pastry, bake them (empty), and fill them with eggsalad, tuna, or any other dips (think serving bowls). Or make individual salad bowls for each place setting. The skies the limit, really! So go ahead, get out your rolling pin, and in the spirit of “Venehapoch Hu”, whisk up a batch of these “not your typical” hamantaschen!

Prepare the dough:

What you’ll need:
1-2 boxes of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets
rolling pin
flour
wide-rimmed cup or round cookie cutter

Leave puff pastry in the fridge overnight to thaw. Remove from fridge. Flour your work surface and rolling pin and roll out the pastry until it is thin. With a cup or cookie cutter, cut out circles in the pastry and lay them out on a cookie sheet. Take your leftover dough and roll it out to the same thickness. Cut more circles, until you have used up all your pastry dough. Refrigerate your circles as they will be difficult to use if they are left out.

For the Cabbage Filling:

What you’ll need:
1 bag coleslaw
1 large spanish onion
1 tsp sugar
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
oil for sauteing

Slice your onion and saute in oil until golden. Add coleslaw, salt, pepper, and sugar and continue to saute until coleslaw shrinks and softens. Stir occasionally, and add more oil if needed.

For the Spinach-Mushroom Filling:

What you’ll need:
1 bag baby spinach
1 container mushrooms
3 cloves garlic
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
oil for sauteeing

Saute 3 cloves of garlic in oil, until fragrant, but not browned, about 2 minutes. Clean and slic mushrooms and add to the pan. Saute for 2 more minutes. Add baby spinach, salt and pepper, and continue to saute until spinach is completely wilted.

For the Pumpkin Filling:

What you’ll need:

1 can Libby’s pumpkin (not pie filling)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
3 tbsp flour

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until incorporated.

Assembling the Hamantaschen:

What you’ll need:
prepared puff pastry circles
prepared cabbage filling
prepared spinach filling
prepared pumpkin filling
2 eggs, whisked
cookie sheets

Preheat your oven to 350. Lightly grease your cookie sheets and set aside. Remove your pastry from the fridge and let thaw for a few minutes.  Brush the circles with egg, and fill with a spoonful of filling. Pinch the corners together to form triangles. Brush again with egg. Lay on a cookie sheet.

Bake & Serve!

Bake for approximately 30 minutes, until golden.

HAPPY PURIM!

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Asian Chicken Salad

I love coming up with ways to repurpose my leftovers. Lets face it. Life is busy, and putting a fresh and healthy dinner on the table isn’t always possible. I’m sure you’ve had to resort to fish sticks and french fries every now and then, just as I have. Sometimes, it helps to make a double portion of chicken or pasta so you can use the leftovers the next day in a different way. When I made this dinner, my daughter came home from school with a fever, and I had to run to the doctor at the last minute. I didn’t have time to prepare dinner earlier in the day, so I was glad to have lots of leftovers from the previous night when I made teriyaki vegetable linginui with marinated chicken breast. I decided to throw together an Asian-style salad to serve alongside some of the leftover pasta. I hadn’t started with the salad yet when my husband came home saying, “I’m not in the mood for salad.” I told him to at least give it a try because he would definitely get in the mood when he tasted it! Sure enough, he loved it, and had two bowlfulls! This salad is so light and fresh-tasting. You can go ahead and add in other veggies if you’d like. I think some white cabbage or bok choy would be a great addition, I just didn’t have any.

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Oven Baked Organic Sweet Potatoes

Last year, we spent Purim in Asheville, North Carolina, by a friend of my husband. We drove about 12 hours to get there, the longest drive we have ever taken by car. It was actually not as bad as I thought it would be, but by the time we got there, I was definitely happy to be able to stretch and sleep! Lucky for us, our friends, the Rabbi and Rebbetzin of Asheville, had set up warm and comfortable accomodations. Purim in Asheville was a lot of fun. My kids enjoyed the Purim party, a magic show, and an adorable play put on by the Hebrew school kids. Even better was the delicious food that the Rebbetzin, Chana, prepared during our stay. One evening, she prepared oven baked organic sweet potatoes as a side dish. This was not new to me, as my mother always made them growing up. However, the organic part definitely was. I was never into the whole organic trend. It’s expensive, hard to find in my neighborhood, and since I turned out fine until now, I figured I’d take my chances. But Chana had recently given birth to twins, and she wanted to eat clean and healthy during her pregnancy, so she adopted a diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables. Being as I grew up eating oven baked sweet potatoes, I knew how they were supposed to taste. So when I put a spoonful of the organic stuff in my mouth, I immediately tasted the difference. It was so fresh tasting, full-bodied, and over-the-top sweet! It felt like eating a decadent dessert! Ever since then, whenever I plan on making oven baked sweet potatoes, I make it a point to buy organic ones. I really taste the difference!

I wouldn’t exactly call this a “recipe” because there is honestly nothing to it. I just find that sometimes we get so hung up on finding “recipes” for things that the star ingredient ends up getting lost. We’re busy taking delicious, wholesome, healthy sweet potatoes, adding butter, brown sugar, eggs and cream (amongst other things) to make sweet potato pie. What happened to baking a sweet potato just as it is? It is so sweet and delicious, it literally needs nothing! Don’t get me wrong, just a few days ago I took perfectly delicious baked salmon and mashed it up into salmon patties. I do it too. But I’m just saying, we definitely live in a “kugel” society and it’s nice to eat a vegetable purely for what it is every once in a while!

Since we weren’t home to give out shalach manos last year, I made Purim cards and sent them to family and friends, letting them know that we gave a donation in their honor in lieu of shalach manos.

Here is the card we sent out:


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