Kitchen Creations

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Zingy & Zesty

I LOVE lemons and lemon bars are among my favorite treats of all time.  That sweet-tart goodness just can't be beat, at least for me.  That is why these little beauties caught my eye immediately as I searched for a new treat to make for our small group study Tuesday night.  I found it at These looked like something a little different having some creaminess to them and yet retaining that zingy, zesty lemon flavor I adore.  I added splash of vanilla to my lemon cream filling.  I have one word to describe the taste, YUM!! I also have one word to describe the prep, EASY!  I can assure you these will be a regular at our house now.

Creamy Lemon Oat Bars 
14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1.)  Heat oven to 375 degrees
2.)  Combine milk, lemon zest, lemon juice & vanilla together in a large bowl. Stir until mixture is thickened.

3.)  In a seperate bowl combine flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt.  Mix well.
4.)  Add softened butter to flour-oat mixture and combine well - should be somewhat crumbly.

5.)  Press half of the flour-oat mixture into the bottom of an 8X8 pan (or something close to that) and bake for 10 minutes

6.)  Pour lemon mixture over bottom crust and spread evenly.

7.)  Sprinkle remaining flour-oat mixture and press down lightly

8.)  Bake for 20 minutes, or until edges are golden.

Click here for printable recipe

Monday, March 19, 2012


One of my favorite movies is Sabrina.  I especially like the version with Harrison Ford (sigh).  In the movie Sabrina convinces Linus to have dinner at a Moroccan restaurant describing the ambiance and food with the words "on the floor" and "lots of cinnamon".  I've wanted to try Moroccan food since the first time I watched that movie.  That's why I got so excited when I found this recipe for a Moroccan-style stew.  Our family loves soups and stews of any kind and this looked absolutely beautiful pictured in my "Complete Vegetarian" cookbook.  I, of course, altered the recipe.  I couldn't begin to guess where to find passata, which turned out to be tomato puree.  I altered the eggplant to chick-pea ratio too, decreasing the chick-peas and increasing the eggplant.   The result was a fragrant, visual and gustatory delight.  It pleased all 4 members of the family, including my pickiest - my younger son Levi.  Levi expressed his greatest delight at what he termed, "cotton balls", which was, in reality, the Israeli couscous I paired with the stew.  I highly recommend it!  This type of couscous is larger and has great texture!

So enjoy your dinner on the floor or at the table tonight with this cinnamon laden delight!

Eggplant & Chick-pea Tagine
2 medium eggplants, cut into cubes
2 zucchini, thickly sliced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cup brown cap mushrooms, halved
1 Tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 cup vegetable broth
5 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
1 6-oz can of tomato paste
1 Tbsp chili sauce (whatever your favorite is)
2 cups chick-peas
salt and ground black pepper
chopped fresh coriander (also known as cilantro) for garnish


  • Sprinkle salt over the eggplant and zucchini once it is cubed/sliced and leave for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry with a dish towel.

  • Place eggplant and zucchini on a baking sheet and spray with olive oil.  Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, until tender and golden.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large sauce pan.  Saute onion for 5 minutes, until tender. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.  Add the mushrooms and cook another 3 minutes, until tender.  Add the spices and cook for 1 minute more.
  • Add 1/2 cup of vegetable broth, this will help "de-glaze" the pan if any of the spices or vegetables have stuck to the bottom.
  • Add the potatoes and cook for 3 minutes, stirring.
  • Add the tomato paste and stir well.
  • Add the remaining 1/2 cup of vegetable broth and stir in.
  • Cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add in the eggplant, zucchini, chili sauce and chick-peas. 
  • Cook for 15-20 minutes more.  Add water or more broth if the stew/tagine becomes too dry.
  • Sprinkle with chopped fresh coriander/cilantro and serve!

Click here for printable version

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How To Celebrate Pi Day!

Yesterday was one of my favorite days of the year.  I love 3/14 because it is "Pi" Day (3.14) and also Albert Einstein's birthday.  I have long planned for the day when I can have a "Pi" party on 3/14 beginning at 1:59 in the afternoon.  A friend expounded on that and came up with the perfect day to have an epic "pi" celebration, 3/14/15 beginning at 9 o'clock. A few more interesting "Pi" facts; MIT has been known to send out its acceptance letters on this date and mathematicians in Tokyo have calculated pi to 1.24 trillion digits!  I love this kind of stuff!  What can I say, I'm a complete nerd and proud of it!  What more could you expect from the daughter of a math teacher and the wife of a biology teacher?  Well all of the "pi love" means that the day has to be commemorated and celebrated!  So in honor of "pi" day what do you eat???  Why PIE of course!  I took it all the way last night with a delicious looking new recipe from my "Complete Vegetarian" cookbook (published by Hermes House) called Filo Vegetable Pie.  I have to say that I made quite a few changes.  I'd like to say it was because of my culinary expertise and exquisite taste.  In reality it was because I couldn't find everything in the store that the recipe called for.  Either way, it was GOOD stuff and oh so gorgeous!!   For dessert we topped it off with mini gingered peach pies.  I got this idea from Pinterest.  I made the pies in muffin tins.  So adorable and fun!  
Here is our dessert! Cute huh?

Pi day may only come once a year, but you can get your Pie on any day of the year with these fun and delicious recipes!!!

Filo Vegetable Pie   
Isn't this gorgeous?!  I can't believe I made this!
  • 2 bunches of green onions, chopped (original recipe called for 3 leeks, but the grocery store only had 1 very sad looking leek left, so I improvised)
  • 4-5 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/4 cups carrots, cubed
  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup Brussels sprouts quartered (Really good, but next time I'm going to do 1/2 broccoli and 1/2 Brussels sprouts)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese (I used 1/3 fat nuefchatel)
  • 1/2 cup cheese (the original recipe called for Roquefort or Stilton - I loathe Stilton cheese and I had cheddar on hand so I used that.)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk  (original recipe called for 2/3 cup of heavy cream but I substituted the sour cream & milk)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 small-medium sized apples, peeled, cored and cubed
  • 1 cup cashew nuts or pine nuts, toasted (One expensive dish with pine nuts, so I went with cashew nuts)
  • 12 oz frozen filo pastry, defrosted (Also couldn't find this so I used egg roll wrappers.  Next time I WILL use filo because the texture will be much flakier, but this turned out beautifully too.)
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Wash and slice green onions (or leeks if you are using them  - for leeks be sure to place them into a colander and wash thoroughly.  They hide dirt everywhere inside their layers!!  Break them apart with your fingers to get all the dirt out. )
  • Cube carrots
  • Heat 1 Tbsp. butter in a large pan over medium heat.  Saute carrots and onions/leeks for 5 minutes. 
  • Add in mushrooms, sprouts (and/or broccoli) and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes
  • Transfer vegetables to a large bowl to cool.
  • Whisk together cream cheese, your choice of cheese, sour cream & milk together in a bowl.  Add in eggs, whisk and season with salt and pepper.

  • Pour the cheese and egg mixture over the vegetables.
  • Add in cubed apples and toasted nuts and mix.

  • Melt the remaining butter.  Brush the inside of a 9 inch spring-form cake tin with melted butter.

  • Brush 2/3 of your filo pastry sheets with butter, one at a time and use them to line the inside of the spring-form pan.  Be sure to overlap the sheets so there are no gaps.

  • Spoon the vegetable mixture into the filo covered pan. 

  • Fold over the edges toward the center.
  • Brush remaining filo sheets with butter and slice them into strips.  Cover the surface of the pie with these strips.  Arrange them across the uncovered spaced.  Decorate here!!

  • Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and crispy all over. (It took about 45 minutes for the egg roll wrappers, might be less for the filo.  I set it for 35 and then added by 5 minute increments, watching it carefully in those last 10 minutes.)

  • Let the pie stand for 5 minutes after removing it from the oven.  Then carefully remove the spring-form sides.  **If you are really brave you can try to transfer it from the base to a serving plate.  I was not that brave.
  • Enjoy your masterpiece!!!
Click here for printable version

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Taste Of the Caribbean

I ate Jamaican food for the first time this past January, at the wedding of two dear friends.  It's amazing stuff, I tell ya; bold and vibrant flavors, but simple at the same time.  Loved it!  So when I came across a recipe called Jamaican Black Bean Pot in one of my favorite cookbooks, The Complete Vegetarian published by Hermes House, I couldn't resist adding it to the weekly menu (along with my own alterations), particularly since it fits all the requirements for this "mostly meatless" week.   I can assure you, you will not miss the meat or flavor in this gorgeous dish!  I paired it with my deluxe cornbread and we came away from dinner with thoroughly happy mouths and stomachs! 

Take your mouth on a trip to the Carribean, it will thank you!

Jamaican Black Bean Dinner 
1 1/4 cups dried black beans (or you can use canned - about 3 cans)
1 bay leaf  (will not use if doing canned beans)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. mustard
1 Tbsp. molasses
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried pepper flakes
1 2/3 cups vegetable stock
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 yellow pepper, seeded and diced
5 cups butternut squash (1 medium squash, about 1.5 lbs), peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
salt and ground black pepper

1.)  Soak beans overnight, making sure water covers all beans.  Drain and rinse well.  Place in large pot and cover with fresh water and add bay leaf.  Bring the water to a boild and boil rapidly for 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat, coer and simmer for 30 minutes more, until beans are tender.  Drain.
2.)  Heat oil in a large sauce pan and saute onion for 4 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for 1 minute more.
**Adding garlic too soon can cause the garlic to give off a bitter taste so be sure not to add it until the end and only cook it for 1 minute.
3.)  Add mustard, molasses, sugar, thyme and red pepper flakes.  Cook for 1 minutes, stirring constantly.

4.)  Stir in the black beans and pour entire mixture into a deep baking dish. 
5.)  Add the vegetable stock/broth and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

6.)  Add the peppers and squash and mix well.

7.)  Cover pan and bake for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

**Serve with cornbread or rice for a simple, yet excellent meal!

Click here for printable version

Monday, March 12, 2012

Something New & Tasty

I finished reading Michael Pollan's, "In Defense Of Food" recently.   My husband read it years ago and it reinforced his decision to be "mostly meatless".  Reading it myself really solidified the desire to push meat to the side.  It features in our meals 1-2 times a week, I wanted to shoot for less this week and still have some fun, tasty dishes that would satisfy.  Several weeks ago I came across a recipe for "Polenta Pesto Lasagna" on  It looked terrific and I loved the idea of trying something different.  I'd never cooked with polenta before, but our family adores lasagna and pesto, so it seemed like a great recipe to try.  One problem, when I went to the grocery store I couldn't find the pre-packaged polenta.  I decided to try my hand at making my own.  Armed with the advice, "Don't leave, slow and steady is the way to go." from my friend Eva and "keep stirring" from my sister Karen, I set out on my first polenta adventure.  Amazingly, it wasn't hard and the results were very gratifying!!  The added bonus is that my recipe had fresh polenta in it and none of the preservatives!  I think Mr. Pollan would be proud.  I know I was! 

The recipe below can be super simple and quick with pre-made polenta and bottled pesto, or you can try out my recipes for polenta and pesto, either way, it should be a terrifically tasty meal!

Pesto Polenta Lasagna 
Polenta -
6 cups water
2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cups corn meal
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Pesto -
20 leaves fresh basil
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (toasted almonds work nicely too)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water

Favorite tomato/marinara sauce
Favorite cheese, mozzarella or cheddar taste great

Polenta - buy pre-made or follow the steps below
1.)  Bring 6 cups of water to boil.
2.)  Add 2 tsp. salt to water
3.)  Gradually add the cornmeal, whisking as you add
4.)  Stir cornmeal mixture continuously over med-high heat for about 15 minutes while mixture thickens.

5.)  Remove from heat and stir in 3 Tbsp. butter

6.)  Transfer polenta to a loaf pan or deep dish and let set up.  It will be easier to make slices for the lasagna this way. 

Pesto - buy pre-made or follow the steps below
1.)  Combine basil, garlic, Parmesan, toasted pine nuts, olive oil and water in a food processor and blend until a smooth sauce forms.

Lasagna -
1.)  Slice polenta to desired thickness

2.)  In a medium baking dish (original recipe called for an 11X9X2 - I just used the closest to that I had) spread 1 layer of polenta slices across the bottom of the pan.
3.)  On top of the polenta slices spread a thin layer of pesto.
4.)  On top of the pesto spread a layer of marinara/tomato sauce.
5.)  On top of the marinara/tomato sauce sprinkle desired amount of cheese. (The polenta is creamy so there is no need for a ton of cheese).
6.)  Repeat layers 1-2 times, depending on how much polenta and pesto you have left.  Reserve a bit of cheese.

7.)  Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.
8.)  Turn oven to broil and sprinkle the top layer of polenta with the remaining cheese and pine nuts.  Broil until the pine nuts are toasted.

Click here for printable recipe

Sunday, March 11, 2012

New recipes!

This week I went looking for some new and interesting recipes.  I'm excited to give them a try.  Stay tuned for:

Pesto Polenta Lasagna
Broccoli L& Ricotta Roll Ups
Jamaican Black Bean Pot
Aubergine (Eggplant) & Chickpea Tagine
Filo Vegetable Pie

Looking forward to sharing pictures and recipes!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ich Liebe Dich

Ich liebe dich means "I love you" in German.  Love has so many meanings and means of expression.  How do you express your deep love for someone?  Is it by touch, by words, by service, by action?  One of the ways I express my love for those in my life is through food, specifically making foods for them.  I slather them with my love by cooking or baking their favorite treats or meals or even better, by trying something new and delicious looking as a surprise.  I never feel more comfortable or loving than when I'm creating something in the kitchen.  It's as if all my creativity and love can combine to make something that shows the special people in my life what they mean to me.  Recently we had my friend Stacy and her husband Matt. along with their adorable daughter Brooklyn over for dinner. Words can't begin to express how much I love these three people.  Having them at the table with my husband and boys makes my heart sing for joy.  I made a German meal and I wanted to finish it off with a German dessert.  I wanted simple ingredients and a simple method.  I've found that simplicity can often shout love far more clearly than complex words, phrases or flavors.  I think it worked.  I think my family, which includes Stacy, Matt & Brooklyn, felt my love for them that night.  I certainly hope so. 

Here's a simple way to tell someone or several someones you love them tonight.  Ich liebe dich!

  • 4 apples, peeled and sliced (also would be good with peaches or pears & cranberries!)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 ts[. ground ginger
  • 1/8/ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 - 3 tsp. butter
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • Preheat oven to 400° F.
  • Mix together the sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger & nutmeg.

  • Add the apple slices and mix until coated with the flour mixture.
  • Add the milk that has been mixed with the vanilla.
  • Stir until everything has been moistened.  Pour into 9X9 baking dish & smooth out the top. 
  • Put on rack in oven and carefully pour the 2 cups of boiling water over the top. DO NOT STIR.  
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until top is golden brown.
  • Let cool slightly before serving. Sprinkle extra cinnamon or slivered almonds on top if desired.
  • Great with vanilla ice cream or whip cream!!!

Click here for printable recipe