Tag Archives: Vegetarian

Apple Basil Potato Kugel

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Next week marks the start of the Jewish year, Rosh Hashanah. Apples are a traditional part of the holiday because they represent a sweet start to the year (especially when dipped in honey) and hark back to the Garden of Eden. Kugels, which are a baked pudding or casserole, are a traditional Jewish food as well. In my family, we enjoy potato kugel at least one night of Rosh Hashanah. So when I was brainstorming for this month’s Crazy Ingredient Challenge, where I had to come up with a recipe melding apples and basil, I decided to put a twist on my typical potato kugel with the addition of apples and basil.

Apple Basil Potato Kugel

This kugel recipe was my grandmother’s, though when she typed it out (as she did with many of her recipes…clearly the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…) she attributed it to Margaret’s niece. So, Margaret’s niece, if you’re reading this, thanks for the great recipe. We enjoy it every year!

Apple Basil Potato Kugel

I used to grate potatoes and onions by hand, but really, there’s no need to work that hard…or add a hint of blood to the dish. This time I used my Cuisinart food processor with the grating blade and saved a ton of time! I highly recommend using the food processor for the grating step if you have one available.

Swapping out a potato for an apple makes this kugel, which can be on the heavier side, a bit lighter in taste. The basil adds a unexpected burst of freshness as well. Try this kugel as a side dish for your holiday dinner, or any meal. L’Shana Tova (have a good year)!

Apple Basil Potato Kugel

Apple Basil Potato Kugel

Yield: 12 servings

nonstick cooking spray

3 large russet potatoes

2 medium apples (I used gala)

1 onion

3 large eggs

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup lightly packed basil chiffonade (basil sliced into thin strips)


1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat an 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Grate peeled potatoes, peeled and cored apples, and the onion into a bowl. Beat the eggs and add to the potato mixture, along with the flour, salt, pepper, olive oil, and basil.

3. Place in the baking dish and bake for at least 1 hour or until light brown and crisp.




“Go Red” for Heart Health Snack Mix

February is Heart Health month and today, February 7, is “Go Red for Women” Day, an event to raise awareness of heart disease in females. So to help support this cause, I’m sharing a recipe for a delicious snack mix that not only has beautiful red cranberries to help us “go red,” but also has some heart health benefits. Plus with Valentine’s Day only a week away, this is a great snack to share with your Valentine, young or old. And that’s excellent for your heart too!

"Go Red" for Heart Health Snack Mix

I’ve never thought too hard about “recipes” for trail mix or the like since you pretty much toss together a bunch of yummy snacks in a bowl or bag and go. But I came across this delectable combination of dried coconut, dried cranberries, and chocolate chips in a packaged snack mix and loved the flavors and figured I could do it myself for a fraction of the cost.

Coconuts are pretty trendy in the food world now and there is lots of research going on in the nutrition and medical fields regarding potential benefits of coconut water, coconut milk, coconut oil, and just plain old coconut. Some studies have shown advantageous effects on cholesterol from ingesting coconut oil. Point 1 for heart health!

Then we come to cranberries. Polyphenols, which are found in cranberries as well as other foods, are thought to be great for cardiovascular health also by improving cholesterol as well as through some anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Yay cranberries!

And finally chocolate. No one needs to give me any scientific argument to eat (and enjoy) chocolate. But just in case you need a heart healthy reason to indulge, here you go…just like cranberries, flavonoids are found in cocoa and chocolate. They have anti-oxidant properties which also have anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory benefits. They also might help lower blood pressure which improves circulation to the heart. Yes please! Benefits are the best with dark chocolate (which includes the semi-sweet chocolate used here).

image from American Heart Association website

image from American Heart Association website

I recommend not using the shredded dried coconut from the baking aisle and rather finding actual dried coconut pieces from the dried fruit section. The flavor and nutrition benefits are so much better and since it’s one of only three ingredients in this snack, it is really highlighted, so the better quality coconut is totally worth it. I found mine at Costco but I imagine it’s available at some supermarkets as well as natural food stores.

"Cocoa"-Nuts for You Snack Mix


“Go Red” for Heart Health Snack Mix

Yield: approximately 3 cups

2 cups dried coconut chunks (we found them at Costco), chopped into small pieces

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup dried cranberries


Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Share with someone you love! Store leftovers in an airtight container.


Peanut Butter & Jelly Muffins

Hello and welcome to National Peanut Butter Day! Really, there is a food holiday for every day of the year and while it would be super fun to celebrate all of them with you, unfortunately a busy job and an even more busy toddler won’t allow that right now. But to me, National Peanut Butter Day can’t be missed so we will observe it accordingly. My favorite peanut butter dishes include anything with chocolate and peanut butter, red curry peanut noodles and any other noodle dish with peanut butter, and heck, just eating peanut butter straight from the jar (my son seems to have picked up on that habit already. Oops). But the epitome of classic peanut butter-ness is that childhood standard, peanut butter and jelly. I still love to bring PB&J to work for lunch every so often. The savory creamy peanut butter mixed with sweet and smooth jelly is a perfect melding of flavors. So why not in a muffin form? Yes, why not? I love making my family muffins for breakfast on the weekend and trying out new recipes. PB&J muffins sounded like a great plan.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Muffins

I used both all-purpose and whole wheat flour, allowing for a hearty bread-like flavor to the muffins. I combined the flours with the other dry ingredients, then added milk, creamy peanut butter, egg, vanilla, and melted butter and stirred until just moistened.

After filling the muffin tins halfway…

Peanut Butter & Jelly Muffins

I dropped a spoonful of jelly onto each muffin. The peach jelly on the left was homemade by one of our friends. So good! Hopefully she’ll give me the recipe so I can share it with you.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Muffins

I then covered them with the remaining batter.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Muffins

I baked them for 20 minutes, then was able to enjoy peanut butter & jelly in one perfect bite of muffin. Just a hint…proceed with caution when digging in…the jelly stays hot for a while. Then close your eyes and chew. You’ll think you are chowing down on a regular old PB&J but surprise, it’s a muffin!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Muffins

Peanut Butter & Jelly Muffins

Follow The Dinner Pages–I have another amazing peanut butter recipe coming soon, this one with CHOCOLATE!! So stay tuned!


Peanut Butter & Jelly Muffins (adapted from Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2008)

Yield: 12 muffins

nonstick cooking spray

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups skim milk

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (the original recipe recommended against using “natural” peanut butter–it said it wouldn’t rise adequately. I have 5 different types of peanut butter at my house but for this recipe I used Peter Pan honey roasted creamy peanut butter instead of natural)

1 large egg

2 tablespoons butter, melted, and slightly cooled

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup jelly/jam of choice (I used some strawberry and some peach)


1. Preheat the oven to 400F and coat the muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugars, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3. In another bowl, combine the milk, peanut butter, egg, butter, and vanilla. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir together until just moistened.

4. Fill each muffin cup about halfway with batter. Spoon approximately 1 teaspoon of jelly atop each muffin. Cover the muffins with the remaining batter.

5. Bake for 20 minutes. The muffin will spring back lightly when touched. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes.

Per serving: 188 calories, 7 grams fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)


Garlic Edamame

Have you ever gone to an Asian restaurant and enjoyed steamed edamame (soy beans) as an appetizer? They’re generally served still in pods and are delicious when lightly salted and a healthier alternative to fried eggrolls and such. It’s easy to get the same effect at home, just boil the edamame pods for about 10 minutes, lightly sprinkle with salt and that’s it. Use your teeth to get the individual edamames out from the pods. I’m not sure if the pods are really edible but they impart a lovely salted flavor when eaten like this. Edamame also make a tasty appetizer or side dish when entertaining. Serve them family style, and make sure to have extra empty bowls for people to deposit their empty edamame pods. You can even serve them alongside your chips and salsa and wings for game day.

Garlic Edamame

In exploring my Hawaiian cookbooks, I came across this recipe for Garlic Edamame and immediately knew it would be on my menu for the week. I love edamame and I really really love garlic and needed a side for the Pineapple Curry Stir Fry meal. So Garlic Edamame it was.

The soy beans are cooked in pods in boiling salted water for about 10 minutes as I described above, then drained. In the meantime, I prepared a compound butter, which is just butter with other added ingredients to provide extra flavor. I used a stick of butter and combined it with a healthy dose of garlic, some minced shallot, a touch of Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, some lemon juice, and a pinch of dried parsley. If your butter is at room temperature it will be easier to combine. Use your hands to get all the flavors melded, if you need to…that’s what I had to do since my butter was a little cold and the paddle attachment for my mixer was in the sink.

Then I melted the compound butter in a large wok over medium heat, and added olive oil and even more garlic, sauteeing the garlic until it began to brown slightly. I tossed the cooked soy beans into the lovely garlicky sauce and finished with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Despite the quantity of garlic in this recipe, it wasn’t overwhelming at all. My husband, who does not favor garlic quite as much as I do (sorry, honey) enjoyed them with me, but you can definitely cut back on the garlic a bit if you’re not a fan. Try edamame for a game day snack, an appetizer at your next dinner party, or as a side with dinner and take it to a new level with Garlic Edamame. Make sure to share it with someone you love.

Garlic Edamame


Garlic Edamame (adapted from Star Advertiser By Request 2)

2 pounds frozen soy beans (edamame) in pods

salt, for the boiling water

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

8-9 cloves garlic, minced, divided (can reduce amount if desired)

1 teaspoon minced shallot

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus more to taste

pinch of dried parsley

2 tablespoons olive oil


1. Boil the edamame pods in well-salted water for about 10 minutes. Drain.

2. Prepare the compound butter by combining the butter, 1 tablespoon of the minced garlic, shallot, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and a pinch of parsley in a bowl until the butter is slightly softened and all the ingredients are mixed evenly.

3. Melt the butter in a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and the remaining minced garlic and saute until the garlic starts to lightly brown. Remove from the heat and stir in the edamame. Toss to coat with the butter sauce. Garnish with a squeeze of lemon juice to taste.


Margarita Pizza with Graham Cracker Crust

Pizza is my favorite food. But surprisingly, cheese is not. If my pizza comes with anything other than mozzarella, I’m apt to peel it off. I was the child who refused to eat mac ‘n cheese. Despite my love of all things carb, I’d be unlikely to eat a bagel (even a delicious real NY style bagel) with cream cheese. I love to make cheesecake but after baking it, I don’t want to eat it, knowing all the cheese that went into its creation. You might notice that the is the very first recipe on this blog that even includes cheese. It can be a little challenging sometimes but overall I do fine without much cheese. Until now…

I had the opportunity to participate in the Improv Cooking Challenge this month and the two key ingredients that I had to include were cheese and crackers. So I thought long and hard about what I could make that I would want to eat afterwards. And my mind circled back to pizza, as it often does, since I loooove pizza. The cheese part was easy there, but how to get crackers into the dish? Ultimately, after a bit of brainstorming and some help from Pinterest, I settled on a graham cracker crust. Maybe a little out there for a cheese and crackers challenge, but it was SO.GOOD! I’d eat cheese and crackers in this form any day.

Margarita Pizza with Graham Cracker Crust

I started off by baking graham crackers. Feel free to use store bought graham crackers for this recipe. When I make it again I’ll be likely to do that too since homemade graham crackers, while absolutely divine, do not make for a quick graham cracker pizza dough and I’m often under a time crunch. Once the graham crackers were ready…

Homemade Graham Crackers

…I moved on to actually making the pizza.

I dissolved yeast in warm water with some flour and let it stand to proof. After half an hour, I added more water, some olive oil, whole wheat flour, more all-purpose flour, and graham crackers crumbs and kneaded them together with the dough hook attachment on my electric mixer, until the dough was smooth, which took about 10 minutes. If the dough is really sticky, as mine was at first, it’s okay to add a little more all-purpose flour.

Once the dough is smooth, place it in a bowl and cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm location for an hour, until it has doubled in size. Punch down the dough (this part is very satisfying), remove it from the bowl, and let it rise for another half hour or so on a flat surface, still covered with a cloth or plastic wrap.

Margarita Pizza with Graham Cracker Crust

I was able to make two 13 to 14 inch pizzas with this dough. The original recipe states it makes 4 to 5 individual pizzas. So divide the dough into however many pizzas you plan to make. I rolled it out on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin and placed it onto pizza pans. My crust was about “NY style” in thickness. Not super thin and crispy, but definitely not deep dish either.

Margarita Pizza with Graham Cracker Crust

Obviously pizza toppings are a personal decision. For us, I made margarita pizzas so I lightly brushed the crusts with olive oil, then topped each pizza with one sliced tomato each, 10 to 12 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese each, thinly sliced fresh basil, and some freshly ground black pepper.

Margarita Pizza with Graham Cracker Crust

I baked the pizza in a 450F degree oven until the cheese was bubbly and browning and the crust was cooked through and golden, about 10 to 12 minutes. The crust was sweet thanks to the graham cracker crumbs, but not overly so. The whole wheat flour balanced out the graham crackers very well. And of course mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil are one of my favorite flavor combinations. So, despite being “cheese and crackers,” my cheese topped graham cracker crumb crusted pizza was a huge success in my book.

Margarita Pizza with Graham Cracker Crust


Margarita Pizza with Graham Cracker Crust (crust inspired by Colavita.com)

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (one envelope)

1 1/2 cups warm water

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

3/4 cups graham crackers crumbs (from homemade or store bought graham crackers)

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

pizza toppings: for the pizzas seen here, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 24 ounces fresh mozzarella, 2 large tomatoes, 1/2 cup shredded basil, freshly ground black pepper (for 2 13-14 inch pizzas)


1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the yeast, 1 cup warm water, and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour. Cover with a cloth and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes. It will appear slightly foamy.

2. Add the remaining water, salt, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and combine with the dough hook of the mixer. Then slowly add in the rest of the all-purpose flour, the whole wheat flour, and the graham cracker crumbs. Knead with the dough hook for about 10 minutes, until smooth. If it seems really sticky after 10 minutes, add a little more all-purpose flour until it is less tacky and more smooth.

3. Turn the kneaded dough into a mixing bowl lightly coated with nonstick spray or oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place for an hour.

4. Punch down the dough and let it rise on a floured surface for 30 minutes.

5. Separate the dough into as many pizzas as you want to make, rolled out each pizza crust on a floured surface and transfer to a pizza pan. Preheat the oven to 450F. If using a pizza stone, preheat the oven with the stone in it to 500F and transfer the pizza to the stone with a pizza peel after topping it.

6. Top the pizzas as desired. I brushed each crust with a tablespoon of olive oil then arranged the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese on top. I sprinkled them with the shredded basil then topped with about 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.

7. Bake in preheated oven until the crust is cooked through and the cheese is golden and bubbly, about 10-12 minutes.


Check out the other “cheese and crackers” selections below:

Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

Today my husband and I ran our third annual Turkey Trot 5K (and our son slept through his second annual race). Afterwards I wanted something warm and (relatively) healthy for brunch and with some overripe bananas on the counter (plus an extra banana from the race), what better than to make some banana bread?! My son was a huge fan of the pumpkin muffins I made last weekend so I decided to go with muffins again, instead of traditional banana bread, plus muffins are faster to bake and get onto the table.

After preheating the oven to 375F and prepping my muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray, I combined the dry ingredients, all-purpose flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, and a pinch of nutmeg in a large bowl. I made a well in the center and added the wet ingredients, melted butter, honey, milk, an egg, and peanut butter. To that I added a cup of mashed banana (it was about 2 and a half bananas but would depend on the banana size). After it was all combined until just moistened (still a bit lumpy), I stirred in half a cup of chocolate chips.

I divided the batter among the dozen muffin cups and baked for 20 minutes, until a knife stuck into the center came out clean. It was such a tasty combination of flavors for our post-race brunch. And my son woke up from his nap just in time to enjoy the muffins with us. Happy weekend everyone!

banana peanut butter chocolate chips muffins


Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins (adapted from How to Cook Everything)

Yield: 12 muffins

nonstick cooking spray (or paper liners for the muffin tin)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

pinch of ground nutmeg

3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

1/4 cup honey

1 large egg

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup mashed overripe bananas (2-3 bananas)

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

The Recipe

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Coat muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg.

3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and to that, add the melted butter, honey, egg, and milk. Next add the bananas. Stir together with a fork or wooden spoon until fully combined and just moistened. It will be somewhat lumpy. Mix in the chocolate chips.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.


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