Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

This is easy and oh so yummy on a chilly winter night. Has a very Indian flavor to it. Next night served as sauce over sauteed vegetables like carrot, cauliflower and broccoli. Very nice.

1-3/4 cup plain yogurt
2 T canola oil
1/3 of a large sweet onion, diced
2 t cumin
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1-1/2 qt broth (I used a can of broth plus 1/2 can of water)
2 T parsley (optional)
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)

1. In a soup pot,heat oil. Add onions and cumin and saute 4 min. Add potatoes and broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20-25 min.
2. Puree soup with 1-1/2 cup of yogurt and parsley. Serve soup with dallog of yogurt and sprinkle of pumpkin seeds.

Makes 12 servings.


Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese


Servings: 4


Prep Time: 20 mins

Total Time: 40 mins

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cook and drain macaroni and cauliflower; set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan melt butter.
  4. Add flour mixed with salt and pepper, using a whisk to stir until well blended.
  5. Pour milk and cream in gradually; stirring constantly.
  6. Bring to boiling point and boil 2 minutes (stirring constantly).
  7. Reduce heat and cook (stirring constantly) 10 minutes.
  8. Add shredded cheddar little by little and simmer an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese melts.
  9. Turn off flame.
  10. Add macaroni to the saucepan and toss to coat with the cheese sauce.
  11. Transfer macaroni to a buttered baking dish.
  12. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
  13. Bake 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.
  14. (You can also freeze this recipe in zip-lock bags for later use - once you have mixed the macaroni along with the cheese sauce allow to cool to room temperature before adding to your freezer - I generally pull it out the night before and allow macaroni and cheese to reach room temperature; I then add the macaroni and cheese to a buttered baking dish, sprinkle with bread crumbs and then bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling.



How can you know if baking powder and soda are still fresh?

How can you know if baking powder and soda are still fresh?

If you don’t bake very often, pay particular attention to the health and well-being of your leavening agents. If your baking powder or baking soda has died, your baked goods are going to fall flat through no fault of you own! In this photo, both batches of Pumpkin Pear Muffins were baked from the same recipe, only the sunken muffins on the right used "expired" baking powder.

Most tins of baking powder have a “use-by” date stamped on the bottom, but that doesn’t absolutely guarantee a fully rising agent. The Clabber Girl baking powder company Web site suggests storing baking powder in a cool, dry cabinet.

Then, before using it, “stir up the powder to see if there are any clumps, or if it has hardened.” If so, “this is an indication that moisture has mixed with the powder and caused a reaction. If it stirs up nice and fluffy, it should be good.” (Never dip a damp measuring spoon into the can as the moisture will ruin it.)

Lots of other Web sites recommend “testing” the baking powder by putting a teaspoonful into a glass of slightly warm water to see if it fizzles or bubbles. If so, it’s still potent. If it just sits there, buy a new can.

Even though I bake fairly often, I still buy the smallest container of baking power I can find. Since most recipes just call for a teaspoon or so, it’s takes practically forever for me to use up a large can.

When it comes to baking soda, also called for in many sweet breads, muffins and cakes, there is no easy test for freshness. The Arm & Hammer company prints a date on each box, but their Web site says when in doubt, buy a fresh box. (That’s useful for the company, obviously, but baking soda is extremely inexpensive as ingredients go. You’re better off using fresh rather than risk ruining your muffins.)

Finally, I’ve always wondered what’s the difference between baking powder and baking soda, and whether they are interchangeable. So I loved this clear-cut explanation from the Arm & Hammer site:

Baking Soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda and various acidic ingredients. Both baking soda and baking powder help dough rise. Baking Soda will react in combination with acidic ingredients in a recipe (like cream of tartar or lemon juice) to release the carbon dioxide that causes dough to rise. Baking powder, which already contains the acidic ingredients to make the carbon dioxide producing reaction, is used in recipes without other acidic ingredients.

Source: http://kitchenscoop.com


Eggplant Parm

I bought the eggplant for $2 at the Calabasas farmer's market and it made a lot. Arin loved this! I served leftovers cold with pasta and it was wonderful. Great vegetarian dish.


2 medium eggplants washed and sliced in 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (threw toasted leftover whole wheat bread in the magic bullet)
1 teaspoons dried oregano
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups marinara sauce*
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
thin slices of mozzarella cheese (or grated mozzarella)


1. Place eggplant slices in cylinder, sprinkle lightly with salt and allow to drain for 30 minutes. Then dry slices.

2. Heat oven to 325 degrees.

3. Mix breadcrumbs and oregano on a plate.

4. Dust eggplant slices in flour. Dip in beaten eggs and coat in breadcrumb mixtures.

5. Heat olive in skillet over medium heat and sauté eggplant slices until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side.

6. Coat a baking pan with marinara sauce. Arrange eggplant slices on top of the sauce. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and place a slice of mozzarella on top of each eggplant.

7. Cover with remaining marinara sauce.

8. Bake in 325 oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

*From Kid Sccop (http://kidscoop.com/kids/recipes/)


Toasted Almond Cheesecake

This a great cheesecake. Just the right balance of sweet and creamy, without feeling too heavy. I got the recipe from: http://www.pastrywiz.com/dailyrecipes/recipes/200.htm

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted & chop fine
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed (I used Splenda)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (room temp)

24 ounces cream cheese, softened (I used low fat)
14 oz can condensed milk
3 eggs
1 tsp. almond extract

Preheat oven to 325. Spray 9-inch springform pan.

Combine graham crumbs, nuts, sugar, and butter, press firmly on bottom of pan.

In a large mixer bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in condensed
milk until smooth. Add eggs and extract. Pour into pan.

Bake 325 for one hour. Turn off oven and leave inside for 1 hour. Do not open oven door!!

Top with toasted almonds and chill overnight.

Notes: I would add the toasted almonds as soon as the cheesecake is done cooking to help it stick. We served it plain and it was delic. I could see serving with a hot berry sauce. Presentation is beautiful. I also saw a similar recipe where they lined a cookie sheet with foil and cut the cheesecake into squares. They poured caramel desert topping on top sprinkled with nuts. I could also see shaved chocolate. I would definitely make this again.

Future note: I made this again and this time only used 16oz cream cheese and a can of pumpkin and no almond extract. I also wound up doubling the crust ingredients (only a pinch of Splenda). It came out divine and looked so professional. Someone said they thought it was from The Cheesecake Factory. This is a winner and so easy to make.


Easy Crockpot Brisket/Roast

Doesn't get easier then this. This is my absolute favorite crock pot recipe!

1. place brisket/roast in crockpot
2. mix envelope of onion soup and 1/2 cup water; pour over roast*
3. cook on low for 7 hours

That is all the ingredients!!! Place your beef in the crockpot fat side down. Serve with potatoes and steamed carrots!

Check out www.justslowcooking.com for more recipes.

*Note: If you don't have an onion soup mix, I used seasonings like onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, paprika.

Plum-Spiced Brisket
A bit different than the traditional recipe for brisket, but one that introduces more flavor and tender meat.

3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 1/2 pounds beef brisket, trimmed
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
4 cans beef broth
2 cups finely chopped dried plums
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
2 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Heat the sesame oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the meat with salt and pepper and brown in the heated oil. Add the remaining ingredients and 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover, transfer to the oven, and cook for four hours, turning the brisket once every hour. Serve brisket with the cooking liquid

Read more: http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/recipes/beef-brisket-chanukah-hannukah#ixzz0ZgXXVpU2

From a Jewish calendar
1-3/4 cup chicken broth
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 T sugar
1 T all-purpose flour
2 tsp instant coffee granules
1/2 tsp thyme


Chicken Parmesan (Crockpot)

Thanks to "A year of slow cooking" for this Chicken Parmesan recipe.

The Ingredients:
--2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
--1/2 cup bread crumbs
--1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
--1/2 t Italian Seasoning
--1/4 t black pepper
--1/4 t kosher salt
--1 T olive oil
--1 beaten egg
--sliced mozzarella cheese
--favorite jarred marinara sauce
(we used Paul Newman's marinara sauce which was really nice)

The Directions:
--spread the 1 T of olive oil into the bottom of your crockpot stoneware insert
--whip the egg with a fork in a separate bowl
--mix bread crumbs, seasonings and Parmesan cheese in a separate dish
--dip the chicken into the egg, then bread crumbs, coating both sides
--place the chicken breast pieces in the bottom of the crock
--layer slices of mozzarella cheese on top
--cover with entire jar of marinara sauce
--close lid and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3-4.
If your chicken is still frozen, it will take longer.
Serve over your favorite pasta. Also served with steamed carrots.

The Verdict.
This tasted great, was really easy, and presented well. This is definitely a dish you can serve to company without hesitation.