Luck of the Jew

st-patricks-day-card-28This week A Breakfast Serial features stories about luck in honor of St. Patty’s Day. St. Patrick’s Day is a HUGE deal in Chicago and I adore the excitement is builds within people.

Read my submission!

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Holiday Left Overs Done Right

Do you have random amounts of left overs from the holidays? We do and the random odds and ends can be annoying. Last year we discovered the PERFECT way to remedy this situation… Stuffing Quesadillas.

First I have to say that I LOVE STUFFING. My entire life I thought it was gross and I think that’s because it was always a boxed brand that required chicken broth. I no longer have such ill feelings towards this holiday treat. During Thanksgiving I made stuffing from scratch and it was yummy, however the best stuffing ever comes from a bag. I am referencing the cranberry stuffing from Wholefoods. I don’t know what it is about this stuff but HOT DANG… its so good.

stuffing_mixFor Christmas I prepared a 4 course meal. We did not eat this meal though. Late Monday evening we were asked to join friends for Indian food and Jewish shenanigans. We took the offer and put all of the food in the fridge. I was okay with this choice because I did’t put a ton of effort into dinner.

One of the dishes I had prepared for us to eat was the 365 stuffing. I did not use all of the recommended butter and I added Seitan strips to the mixture. The directions on the bag call for the mixture to soak in butter and water. During this process I placed the seitan in the pot so that it would also soak up the flavors.

I took pictures of the finished product however they were accidentally deleted. You must trust that these are delicious!

Leftover Stuffing Quesadilla

Ingredients:

  • 2 tortillas (if you are trying to watch your diet I recommend 1 “roll up” for 90 calories)
  • 1/3 c of part skim mozzarella OR brie if available *Ideally you just use whatever cheese you have leftover, however these two compliment the stuffing well
  • Leftover gravy (we made cremini mushroom gravy)

Directions:

1. Spray non stick pan with organic PAM or butter lightly.

2. Heat pan on medium heat and place assembled quesadilla into pan.

3. Brown both sides of tortilla until crispy.

4. Re-heat gravy while quesadilla cookies

5. Remove tortillas, cut into forths and serve with gravy.

Now that those leftovers have been eatten, clean out the fridge and cleanse yourself of all of the holiday treats (that’s what I am trying to do!).

Easy as Pie… Chocolate Pie

Every year Stephen’s mom makes him Chocolate Pie for… well… any occasion he requests it. Since we don’t live near his parents anymore, chocolate pie has become a prized commodity. When his folks visited for Thanksgiving his mom brought her worn recipe card with her. She fulfilled Stephen’s request and made him a pie for Thanksgiving. By accident she left the recipe card which has resulted in Stephen getting Chocolate Pie for Christmas despite his mom’s absence.

simple genius

simple genius

This pie is SUPER easy to make. It requires no baking and can be adjusted to have fewer calories. I did not try to make this recipe low calories because at the end of the day, its for Stephen, not I. I feel like I am about to give away a family secret recipe… feel honored 😉

Mary’s Famous Chocolate Pie

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Time:
  • 10 minutes prep
  • Can make 2 days ahead or let sit in freezer for at least an hour.
Ingredients:
  • 1 block of cream cheese (you can use low fat kind)- softened
  • 1 tub of cool whip (I used lite)
  • German baker chocolate  (the whole box)
  • graham cracker crust (buy the kind with a lid, you will need it for freezing)
  • 1/3 c of unsweetened almond milk (the original recipe calls for regular milk however the almond milk works just as well)

*Optional: crumbled oreos (I had leftovers in the cabinet… why not use them!)

Directions:
  1. Melt chocolate over stove or in microwaves (small intervals). Once chocolate is melted whisk in almond milk.
  2. In a electric mixer whisk cream cheese (fluff it up). Add sugar if you would like ( I used two packs of stevia)
  3. Continue mixing with electric whisk and slowly pour in chocolate.
  4. Increase speed, mix in cool whip. The mixture should be light and fluffy.
  5. Spoon mixture into crust. Dust pie with oreo.
  6.  Place lid on pie and place in freezer or fridge. You can make this days ahead and place in freezer and serve within the hour.
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Serve chilled

Later than Brunch… Breakfast

Winter Break has been very kind to me. We have slept in, been to two wine tastings, and visited the Nutcracker. I also began my 200 Yoga Alliance Training program and have started logging my hours. I am super excited about all of this!

nut

The Auditorium Theater, Roosevelt (one of my favorite places)

One of the most amazing things about break is staying up late and sleeping in. I love waking up to a clean house, having a fresh pot of coffee and pastry at mid day. It is a spectacular feeling to be free.

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Stephen enjoying his scone at 11 am (this is the life!)

As of late I have been inspired by our wedding and France… maybe it’s the wine.. maybe it’s the crepes. Anyways I have wanted to eat breakfast pastries and thus I whipped up some scones yesterday (I am aware this is not French). I adapted this recipe, added protein and made it vegan. I love using fresh and in season fruit. Recently, organic oranges have been super affordable and delicious!

orange

Cranberry Orange Protein Vegan Scones

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Ingredients:

  •  1 1/4 cups  whole wheat flour
  •     1/2 cup brown sugar
  •     1 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 365 Vanilla Whey Protein Powder (1 scoop = 1 serving)
  •     1 teaspoon cinnamon
  •     1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  •     1/2 cup applesauce
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla
  •     1 cup oats
  •     1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • orange zest

Orange Cream Cheese Glaze (not so vegan):

  • 4 tbsp of powdered sugar
  • orange zest
  • 2 tbsp of reduced fat cream cheese (if you want to make the frosting vegan sub out with Tofutti cream cheese)

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Directions:
Preheat oven 375 degrees F and spray a round cake pan with Pam for Baking.
Stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, protein powder and cinnamon.
Make a well in the center and stir in  almond milk, applesauce, and vanilla.
Mix well and fold in oats. Stir in cranberries and orange zest.
Spread batter into prepared pan, and flatten so it looks like a cookie cake. Bake for 18 minutes, then cut into 8 pieces when done.
Bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
glazed scone for the husband

glazed scone for the husband

perfect morning

perfect morning

Serving Size: makes 8 scones

Nutrition info according to MyFitnessPal (not including glaze)

Nutrition info according to MyFitnessPal (not including glaze)

And there is some people thinking that the end is close by

But instead of thinking…they are learning to die. – Bob Dylan

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Nothing makes me happier then Sunday baking, having my husband on the couch and Bobby D on the record player. The weather is grim which makes for the perfect cozy Sunday.  Heck, I haven’t even gotten out of my pjs today. Yoga tonight will require a change in attire but that’s a move I’m willing to make.

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(we are a mess)

Today I made my final batch of holiday treats before winter break. I haven’t baked for my kids in a couple of weeks because I knew I would be stretched too thin and didn’t want to feel obligated. This week their baked good was listed on the board as “Ms. W’s Holiday Surprise Cookies.” The kids begged and pleaded to hear the ingredients but I stood strong and did not let them know what was in the recipe. I with held information for two reasons. First, they love simplicity (anything complicated scares them) and I knew if I told them that more than one ingredient was int the recipe, they wouldn’t want it. Second, I wasn’t even sure what I was going to make… slick. I knew that I wanted the cookie to have a similar taste to my holiday cookies I made for Stephen’s work but didn’t want to put the same mix ins into the recipe. After scouring the shelved of Trader Joe’s yesterday I came up a FREAKING AWESOME holiday cookie.

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Cookies

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Makes 40 cookies (smaller cookies)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 c chopped chocolate covered pretzel slims
  • 1/2 c peppermint baking chips ( I used Trader Joes but I had seen mint chips at Target)
  • 10 waffle peppermint cane cookies from Trader Joes (if you don’t have a Traders close to you I used crush up 2 candy canes and add more of the pretzels to the mix)
  • Cooking spray or parchment paper

Directions:

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°. Beat butter and sugars at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Add eggs and 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla, beating until blended.
  2. 2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl; gradually add to butter mixture, beating just until blended. Beat pretzels, chips, and cookies just until combined. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

photo (88)3. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Remove to wire racks, and cool completely (about 15 minutes).

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“They taste like Christmas!”

” Chocolately peppermint goodness, 5 stars” – says the husband 🙂

Holiday Work Cheer: Part 2

Today was hours and hours of baking and prepping for work! One of my precious students came over to help me bake. While she was here we made an assortment of goods for my co-workers and for her family. I didn’t get to snap pictures of all of the treats but I did for the majority of what I am giving out for my holiday work gifts. My student has never had the opportunity to make Christmas cookies so I felt we must undo this wrong and decorate sugar cookies! I also taught her how to make basic chocolate chip cookies. We added some M&Ms for festive coloring. We also made some white chocolate peppermint Oreo bark, nom nom!

The past two years I made labor intensive gifts for my co-workers but this year due to time constraints and money I wanted something simple, affordable and delicious. I decided on Oreo bark and I am quite pleased with my choice! I purchased the items at Aldi and the total for the goods was around $6.00. I was able to make 16 gifts which means each bag cost .37… not too shabby!  I made Christmas colored bark for the majority of the staff and Hanukkah bark for my beloved tribe members. I recently received a wonderful Star of David mold* and was able to use it to craft the Hanukkah bark.

*I can not find the exact mold online but this quite close.

Hanukkah Oreo Bark

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Christmas Oreo Bark

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Ingredients:

  • 1 package of oreos
  • 1 package of white chocolate almond bark
  • 1 package of white chocolate morsels

Directions:

Prepare tray with parchment paper. Place oreos in a gallon ziplock bag and role with a rolling pin. Melt white chocolate in microwave safe dish at 25 second intervals. (If you want to use a double broiler feel free I just don’t have the patience) When the chocolate has almost completed melted, mix in food coloring. When the chocolate is completely melted mix the oreo pieces into the gooey greatness. Spread the mixture over the tray and place in fridge or freezer depending on the time. Once the mixture has hardened break into pieces and serve.

After bark making we made some sugar cookies and did some cheesey decorating. Nothing says Christmas and Hanukkah like sugar cookies!

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My cookies!

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Decorating.

photo (72)My dear student’s cookies

Also, my wonderful husband bought me this awesome cook book  for the second night of Hanukkah and I can’t wait to try out some of the recipes.

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Holiday Work Cheer: Part 1

Stephen has had the honor of working for the United States Trustee over the past two semesters. The staff treated him with such respect and he had such a wonderful time working for the department. He learned a ton and will definitely remember his experience. I wanted Stephen to go out with a bang and say thank you to everyone. Also, holidays are a terrific excuse to bake. Stephen brought to work an assortment of holiday treats and the staff was quite pleased.

UST Holiday Menu

Annie’s Special Cookies (M&Ms, Pretzels, and Whopper Cookies)
Oatmeal Cookies with white cholcoate chips and dried cranberries
Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Recipes

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Annie’s Special Cookies (M&Ms, Pretzels, and Whopper Cookies)

(adapted from myrecipes.com)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • teaspoon salt
  • 2 cup chopped salted pretzel sticks
  • 1 cup milk chocolate M &Ms (I used the Christmas color ones to add a festive touch!)
  • 1/2 cup of whoppers (they grind up while being mixed)
  • Cooking spray or parchment paper

Directions:

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°. Beat butter and sugars at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Add eggs and 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla, beating until blended.
  2. 2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl; gradually add to butter mixture, beating just until blended. Beat M&Ms, pretzel sticks, and whoppers just until combined. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
  3. 3. Bake at 350° for 10 to 14 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Remove to wire racks, and cool completely (about 15 minutes).

Oatmeal Cookies with white chocolate chips and dried cranberries

(adapted from Smittenkitten)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, cranberries, and chips.

The dough needs to be chilled before baking it. If you do not have a lot of time you can pop the dough into the freezer. If you are going to use the freezer, scoop the dough onto the baking sheets first.

The cookies should be two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

http://www.fifteenspatulas.com/homemade-peanut-butter-cups/

photo (57)

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I am not the best at presentation. Personally I have little patience and am not the best at taking my time to make things look great. In my world if it tastes great who cares if its not perfect. However, I do enjoy presentation… just isn’t my forte. I wanted Stephen to be able to easily transport the goods and excite the crowd with a bit of a presentation. I journeyed to Target (where I have spent TOO much of my time as of late) to try and find a tin to send the cookies in. Much to my dismay, the tins were tiny and $5.00! Talk about exploiting the Christmas spirit. They also had a disposable baskest but I wasn’t sure how large it was and for the price I didn’t want to risk it. After wandering the isles for some time I finally figured out a cute, cheap and easy solution… gift boxes! Target has holiday themed gift boxes for $2.50. I was able to buy two boxes and fit all of the goods with extra room.

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Vegetarian Holidays

I love the holidays! Let’s be real, I love the holidays because I LOVE cooking! The holidays are like the super bowl for me. This past week we had the in laws in town for Thanksgiving. Despite only having four people at our dinner table, I prepared enough food for 8 (or 10 :)).  I used pinterest to help me put my menu together and the results were a hit. I have compiled our menu here. Heck, I might make most of this again for Christmas. I believe vegetarians need to stick together and share all of the resources we can! *Most of these can be made vegan with Earth Balance.

Final Menu:

Main Course

Seitan Roulade with Chestnut Stuffing
Mushroom Gravy
Shiitake Mushroom and Greens Beans
Hazelnut infused butter with brussel sprouts
Rosemary and parmesan biscuits
Cranberry stuffing
Roasted butternut squash with rosemary and gargonzola
Mashed Potatoes
Cranberry Sauce

Dessert

Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pie Crumble
Chocolate Pie

*Please note there is Turkey in this picture. Also note, I wasn’t super excited.

Seitan Roulade

Unlike years past I wanted to make a hearty meat substitute for Stephen and I. Last year I spotted Vegan Yum Yum’s Seitan Roulade , however I was always a little nervous to actually make them. This year I mustered enough courage and prepared this delightful dish. I am quite pleased with the results. The roulade is hearty, warm, and delicious. We also had the recommended mushroom gravy on Vegan Yum Yum. So delicious!

Side Dishes

Biscuts:  http://www.skinnytaste.com/2011/11/easy-rosemary-garlic-parmesan-biscuits.html

Butternut Squash: http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2009/11/recipe-for-roasted-butternut-squash.html

Brussel Sprouts: http://cookandbemerry.com/brussels-sprouts-with-hazelnut-butter/

Green Beans: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Green-Beans-with-Shiitake-Mushrooms-105815

Cranberry sauce and Mashed Potatoes- pretty standard and classic …

Cranberry Stuffing- Whole Food 365 Organic

Desserts:

Apple Pie Crumble http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/apple-crumble-pie/detail.aspx

Pumpkin Pie http://www.myrecipes.com/special-diet/diabetic-recipes/diabetic-desserts-00420000001200/page6.html

Chocolate Pie= Stephen’s Mom’s secret recipe.

Bon Apetit