Thursday, January 22, 2015

Weeknight mushroom barley soup

My kids love soup-all kinds! Black bean, split pea, lentil, chicken noodle, broccoli cheddar-we're definitely a SOUPER family! Mushroom barley is one of their favorites, and as much as I hate mushrooms themselves, I love the soup too! There are some great recipes (my favorite is at out there, but this is the only one I've made in under 30 minutes that has that slow-cooked, homemade deliciousness! I guess it helped that I only used what I had in the house, but it's flexible so you could add meat or other veggies if you choose. This souped up quickly in between homework, fighting and chasing a toddler. If I could do it, so can you!! Try this yummy soup with a big salad, a sandwich or some crusty bread and voila, dinner!!!

1 onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 box white button mushrooms, stems removed, chopped
2 cloves garlic (I use Dorot frozen cubes from TJ, so 2 cubes)
2 boxes chicken/vegetable/beef broth + 2 cups or 10 cups liquid of your choice (if you use water you will need to season it more)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp. olive oil 
1 package 10 minute barley from TJ ( or regular barley but will take longer to cook!)


Sauté the onion, carrots and mushrooms in the olive oil about 10 minutes until soft and onions translucent

Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes m

Add liquid and bring to boil

Add barley and salt, reduce to simmer and cook covered 15 minutes. 

Eat and enjoy!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bread Machine Challah Dough

As I sit and wait for challot numbers 5 & 6 to be done in the oven, I figured I would finally take the time to share my bread machine challah dough recipe with those that always ask for it! I have previously posted a fabulous recipe for challah which is made in an electric mixer, but this is my weekly go to because it literally takes 87.45 to put the ingredients into the bread machine, walk away for 90 minutes while it mixes/kneads/rises. Then I divide it in half, braid it, and let it rise again for another hour, or so. Then egg it, sprinkle it and bake it. Voila-fresh challah!!! This recipe makes 2 generous braids, or in today's case, rounds. Round challah is traditional for Rosh Hashana, and I hope that my challahs come out sweet and yummy to help us bring in a sweet and healthy Jewish New Year!


  • 1 cup water, room temperature
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter (best at room temp), cut in pieces OR just shy of 1/2 cup of canola or grapeseed oil (if making pareve I highly suggest the oil vs. margarine); taste difference between butter and oil is minimal
  • 2 large eggs, room temp (not essential but preferable)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 3/4 cup unbleached or bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons yeast (active dry, instant or bread machine-I almost always use bread machine)
  • Put all of the ingredients in the ORDER listed above in the bread machine pan 
  • Put the pan in the bread machine
  • Set on dough cycle (I use a Cuisinart bread machine so it's setting 8, but this will of course vary per machine)
  • After the cycle is completed (90 minutes), remove the dough and place on a lightly floured surface
  • Cut in half, then braid each half
  • Place on a parchment covered cookie sheet, or in tinfoil cake pans to make round (sprayed with cooking spray)
  • Cover with a clean dry dishtowel and let rise another 60 minutes or so
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Brush with egg wash (egg beaten with a few drops of water)
  • I usually do 1 with sesame seeds and 1 with rainbow sprinkles which is mandatory in my house and with our Shabbat guests (other toppings could be cinnamon sugar, everything mix, poppy seeds, or mini chocolate chips)
  • Bake for 15 minutes then rotate the trays for another 10-15 minutes, watching the top so it doesn't burn (sometimes I need to cover them with foil or lower the temp to 325 if browning too quickly-it's trial and error depending on your oven)
  • Remove and let cool on cookie sheet/pan for 5 minutes then place on cooling rack
  • Best eaten fresh, but if made day before or earlier in the day just lightly wrap in foil to reheat
  • Can be frozen if wrapped well in foil and a freezer bag, then defrosted on counter and reheated as above
Eat and enjoy!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Two-color Potato Gratin

We had baked potatoes one night last week with grilled chicken, and mashed sweet potatoes with meatballs on another night. So I was left with 4 Yukon gold potatoes and 4 sweet potatoes (which are actually yams!) that I had to use up. I made a yummy, easy, pretty and pretty healthy side dish that I have to share! You can use this method for all one color potatoes, or whatever you have on hand, but the white and the sweet made this super pretty and yummy! 

4 yams/sweet potatoes, peeled 
4 white/brown potatoes, peeled 
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 clove garlic, grated 
1 1/2 cups fat free half & half (or whatever milk you have or like)
Salt and pepper, to taste 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
After the potatoes are peeled, slice them thin by hand or use a mandoline on the medium setting (that's what I did!).
In a 9 x 13 casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray, layer the potatoes beginning with white and ending with sweet, 2 layers of each. Season each layer with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. 
Once the potatoes are assembled, set aside and melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan. 
When melted, sprinkle in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon, constantly for 2 minutes. (This flour mixture is called a roux.)
Next whisk in the half & half and bring to a slow boil, stirring very frequently, stopping just enough to add the garlic, or grate it right into the pot like I do!
Once it's thickened, turn off the heat and add salt and pepper, about 1/2 teaspoon of each, stir well.
Pour the mixture over the potatoes and lightly shake the pan so it is evenly distributed. 
Bake covered with foil for 40 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Cut into squares, eat and enjoy!!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Totally Yummy Tiny Turkey Meatloaves

 I have a rotation of 3 or 4 different meatloaf recipes. One was given to my mom by a friend who has had this recipe in her family forever. Another was torn out of a magazine maybe 10 years ago. The third recipe I acquired after my son slept at a friend's house and his mom, my friend E, made it for dinner and he gobbled it. Yet, every few months when I decide to make meatloaf or turkey meatloaf, it's never a family favorite, rather I end up eating the leftovers for lunch 3 days in a row. This recipe is actually a combination of all three. While making this yesterday, I got a little excited that maybe, finally, perhaps, everyone would eat and enjoy this. Our afternoons are so ridiculously busily crazy, that I try whenever possible to assemble/prepare dinner earlier in the day so that I just have to bake off or reheat before dinnertime. Once this was prepared, I just covered it with foil to sit in the fridge for a few hours, then uncovered and baked for an hour while the potatoes (another post!) cooked. At last, a turkey meatloaf recipe that everyone loved, from Daddy to baby D! Let me know what you think, or send me your favorite recipe to try! This made a large loaf and 8 mini-loaves, which everyone preferred to the slices. You can easily halve this recipe if you don't need to feed 6 like I do! Eat and enjoy!


  • 1 1/3 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 1/3 pounds ground turkey breast
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 large carrots, peeled and grated (I used the multi-colored ones from TJ which were pretty!)
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (a friend says you can sub cooked quinoa!)
  • 2/3 cup milk (cow's milk, soy milk, non-dairy creamer, fat free half and half)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • pepper
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Preheat oven to 400 degreed F and spray mini loaf pan or muffin tin (or large loaf pan if you prefer-tastes equally yummy!!)
  • In a large pan, heat the olive oil and add the onion, carrot and garlic
  • Saute until soft, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently so the garlic doesn't burn
  • While the veggies are cooking, in a large bowl combine the meat, the bread crumbs, the eggs, the milk, and salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon each)
  • Let veggies cool for a few minutes, and in the meantime combine ketchup, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl
  • Add the cooked mixture to the meat mixture and mix well with your hands or a wooden spoon
  • Add 1/3 of the ketchup mixture to the meat
  • Divide the meat mixture evenly among the loaf/muffin pans and brush the tops with the remaining ketchup mixture
  • Bake for approximately 40 minutes (50-55 minutes if you are baking a standard size loaf, and maybe 35 minutes if you are doing muffin tins), rotating the pans halfway through the cooking time
  • Let set for 5 minutes before removing from pans

Easy & Yummy Grilled Chicken Marinade

The last few times I have tried out a new marinade recipe, I start off really excited that the finished product is going to be delicious. I measure and mix and marinate...and then am disappointed. The lack of flavor is surprising given the combinations of flavors, but at last I found one that is full of flavor. A winner! I found the basis for this one on Pinterest and then played around with it-added more lime, reduced the amount of sugar, used low-sodium soy sauce, etc. The best part of loosely following a recipe like this is being able to tweak it to make it your own, to suit your taste or your family or your cooking needs. We made this on Sunday, and everyone loved it-from Grandpa down to baby D!! I threw the chicken in the marinade around noon and let the flavors marry together in the fridge for about 5 hours, thought you could certainly leave it overnight if you have time or let the chicken sit for just half an hour as you prepare the rest of dinner. You can easily use this for flank steak as well. This is now my new go-to grill marinade, though if you have a favorite please send it my way! Eat and enjoy!

INGREDIENTS: (this is for 2-3 lbs of chicken breast, so adjust accordingly)

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice 
  • 4 cloves grated garlic
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Juice the limes and put the juiced lime halves in a gallon size food storage bag (they add extra great flavor to the chicken!)
  • Whisk together the oil, soy sauce and lime juice
  • Add the garlic, brown sugar, salt, pepper and mix well
  • Pour the mixture into the bag
  • Add the chicken breasts, seal well, and marinate in refrigerator for up to 24 hours

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Old-fashioned Oatmeal Muffins

When I was a little girl, my grandma and my mom made the yummiest bran muffins. The batter could be made in advance and could stay in the fridge for a few weeks, and when we smelled them baking we ran to the fridge to grab the butter and sat waiting for them to cool enough to eat. There was no better after-school snack then these fresh muffins. It's still a good recipe, but I updated it to make the ingredients easier to find and super easy to whip up and bake. No hunting down Bran Buds, no need to make the batter in advance. I mixed this recipe up at 7:30 this morning and by 7:55 AM we had warm muffins for breakfast. This recipe is pretty forgiving too; sub applesauce for half or all the oil, use some pumpkin in place of eggs or oil, add raisins or cranberries or chocolate chips, toss in some cinnamon....they will be delicious no matter what you do to them!

Here's the basic recipe, which makes 18 standard/generous muffins. You can make them mini or jumbo, suit yourself!


  • 2 cups All Bran or Trader Joe's Bran (this is cereal, not oat bran, please note!)
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats (I use Trader Joe's in the bag), not instant
  • 2 cups low-fat buttermilk (if you don't have this you can use any type of milk you have/use!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable/canola/grapeseed oil
  • 1 scant cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour (you can do 1 cup white and 1 cup whole wheat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Pour buttermilk over bran and oatmeal and let sit for 5 minutes
  • In the meantime, combine flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder 
  • Stir cereal mixture, then add vanilla, eggs, oil and sugar to it and mix well
  • Fold in dry mixture
  • Spray 2 12-cup muffin tins with cooking or baking spray (best not to use paper muffin cups with these, they may stick to the paper)
  • Use a large cookie scoop or tablespoon to fill up the muffin tins with the batter
  • Bake 18-20 minutes, depending on your oven (I like to set the timer for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 3-5 minutes until they are done)
  • Use a butter knife to gently remove from the muffin tin and cool on a baking rack
  • These will stay fresh in a food storage bag or container for 3 days, and they freeze really well
They are SOOO yummy warm with a drop of butter, or just warm, or cool, or cold, or anyway you like to eat them......Eat and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Simple sweet and savory salmon

Tonight dinner had to be thrown together in 20 minutes, between walking in the door from soccer practice and homework for 3 kids, and had to involve the oven rather than the stove so I could hold the baby at the same time! So here it is-super simple, super yummy and super fast salmon! After hubby polished it off, the biggest compliment was when he asked why I hadn't made this before! Well, it's a keeper y'all! So is he :). Eat & enjoy!!

1.5 lb salmon fillet, skinless 
2 tablespoons golden brown sugar 
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 8 cubes (or canola/grapeseed oil but I like the butter here)
1 lemon thinly sliced 
Salt and pepper, to taste 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
Line baking sheet with foil
Rub the sugar into the salmon
Sprinkle with salt and pepper
Scatter the butter over the salmon 
Lay the lemon slices on top
Bake for 15 minutes or until fully cooked 

BONUS recipe!
I roasted some organic broccoli florets tossed with EVOO and salt and pepper on a separate foil-lined baking sheet. I put it in the oven 10 minutes before the salmon, then left it continue to roast while the salmon was in the oven. Those 25 minutes were enough to make basmati rice on the stove and voila!