Dairy Dishes

Kosher and Dairy

Nearly No-Carb Cheesecake with Mom’s Voice

Next week, Don and I will be heading to Israel for my mother-in-law’s ninth Yahrzeit, (commemoration of the anniversary of death) of my mother-in-law, Devorah bas Yitzchok Ahron a’H.  I loved my mother-in-law dearly.  While her physical presence is no longer in this world, her neshoma (soul) endures.  And, the Yahrzeit is the time to reflect on the lessons that she has imparted and continues to impart to us, her children.

My mother-in-law was brutally honest.  She was definitely not subtle.  Not in any way.

She would tell me and everyone else exactly what she thought.  And, exactly what she thought we should do.  She would tell my children that we weren’t taking good enough care of my furniture.  And, that my sister-in-law’s couches were holding up better than mine.   She offered advice to me on how to raise my children.  She couldn’t hold back when she thought someone was too fat or wearing clothing that was not flattering.  And, she always brought me just the items from the dollar store that she thought that I needed in my life.

Mom was absolutely right about most everything.  Her advice was truthful and blunt.  I heard what she said and yet I often rejected her words as harsh and unfair.  Because, in Mom’s lifetime, it was just too much information and it felt so negative.

Now that only her soul and her legacy remains, I interpret her words differently.  I accept them more and push back less.  Honestly, I just needed to learn to accept the criticism and own it.

Now that her physical presence is gone, I still hear her whispering in my ear.  Most amazingly, her voice has merged with my own inner voice.  And, it feels right and only positive now.

“It’s time to lose weight.” “Close the front door.”  “Don’t let the grandchildren play with play dough on the floor.”  “That outfit isn’t flattering.”   These are Mom’s lessons with my own inner voice whispering them.

So, with Mom’s voice as the impetus, we decided to do something exciting, frightening and wonderful on our  Yahrzeit visit to Israel this year.   We decided to jump-start healthier eating habits on this trip with the hope that these habits will last.  And, I feel that Mom has whispered this daunting plan into my ear.  Because, she always wanted her family to be slimmer, more fit and healthier.

Don’s two brothers will be joining us on this trip.  Don’s brother, Yisroel, has been on a modified Atkin’s diet successfully for two years.    He volunteered to be the mentor and coach.  I volunteered to be the cook and menu planner.  Yisroel keeps reminding me that it will be hard work.  And, I am up to the challenge, Mom!

Don’s brother, Mordechai, is on board with this new plan.  For this trip, he will be traveling without the love of his life, Yael.  But, he doesn’t want to give up another love of his life.   Cheesecake.

Don told Mordechai that we will find a way for him to have his cheesecake and eat it, too.   And, since I am in charge of the cooking and meal planning, I was determined to bake a cheesecake with nearly no carbs.

Therefore, I made a simple, crust-free cheesecake with Neufchâtel cream cheese and SPLENDA® .  Although, I generally do not use diet sugars or diet products,  I made an exception here due to the circumstances.   I hope that you love the cheesecake, Mordechai.

Thanks Mom, for that new inner voice!  May your dear neshoma be bound with the souls of the living.

no-carb cheesecake

SUPPLIES

spatula
food processor
mixer

glass pie plate

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds Neufchâtel or light cream cheese
3 large eggs
10 SPLENDA® packets (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

cooking spray

DIRECTIONS

It is best to bring the ingredients to room temperature before baking to prevent cracking, although I have made this recipe effectively with ingredients right out of the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Prepare pie plate by generously spraying with cooking spray or lining with parchment paper .

In food processor fitted with an S-blade, beat cream cheese, eggs, SPLENDA® and vanilla in a food processor or with a mixer, just until smooth and creamy. You can also use a whisk to incorporate and beat all these ingredients. You will have to scrape sides of bowl to incorporate everything well until combined, smooth and creamy.

Pour mixture into pie plate.

Bake for 40 minutes. Turn oven off and leave in oven to another half-hour.

Remove from the oven and cool completely.  Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

TIPS

If you would rather use less SPLENDA® , I would suggest just sprinkling a bit on top of the cheesecake when serving.  A sprinkle of SPLENDA®  or powdered sugar on top fools the palate and imparts sweetness to the whole serving.

Pumpkin Quiche for a Dairy Thanksgiving

pumpkin quiche

We normally celebrate Thanksgiving with a delicious heimeshe (traditional Jewish style) turkey and meat dinner at our niece’s house.  Michal and Shui open their beautiful home and prepare an assortment of delicious foods for this occasion.  After all, the theme of hakaras hatov (thanksgiving) is of paramount importance to our Jewish faith and Thanksgiving is an excellent opportunity to get the family together  to express our appreciation for all that we have been given.  Michal’s dinner is one that the whole family anticipates and enjoys.

This year is different.  This Shabbos, right after Thanksgiving, Michal and Shui will be hosting the entire family for their son’s Bar Mitzvah.  And, the energy and excitement for a wonderful Shabbos all together with aunts, uncles and cousins is palpable.

So, we are left to make our own plans for Thanksgiving.   And, this year, Thanksgiving day comes on the heels of Michelle’s birthday.  And Michelle loves milchig (dairy) foods.

We are changing things up this year and having a dairy Thanksgiving feast with many of Michelle’s favorite foods.  There will be Onion Quiche, fettuccine alfredo (stay tuned for the recipe), Lasagna and plenty of salads.  Of course there will be a Carvel ice cream cake, Michelle’s favorite, and some Cheesecake for dessert.

And, in celebration of Thanksgiving, I will be serving this awesome pumpkin quiche.  After all, we have to keep some tradition in this festive dairy birthday feast.

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons oil
2-3 onions
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2  teaspoon salt
dash of black pepper

4 eggs
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
1 large can of pumpkin puree
8 ounces shredded or grated cheese

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Over medium-high heat, heat oil and add onions and seasonings. Stir occasionally until the onions are soft. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the onions are light brown, stirring occasionally.

Place half of the cheese in the quiche pan. Combine the eggs, cream, milk and pumpkin puree. Pour into the quiche pan over the cheese. Sprinkle the sauteed onions and garlic over the egg mixture and top with the remaining shredded cheese.

Bake uncovered for 45 minutes or until the top of the quiche is golden-brown.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Avigail’s Simple Pilgrim Hats

This year we are hosting a dairy Thanksgiving feast.

The idea germinated when I realized that Thanksgiving this year falls out right after Michelle’s birthday.  Since Michelle loves Italian dairy foods, it just made sense to offer a dairy menu instead of the traditional Thanksgiving fare.  Since kosher dietary laws prevent the combination of milk and meat, once I chose to go dairy, it precluded having a turkey as the centerpiece of the meal.

Truth be told, I thought to create a vegetarian turkey.  I defrosted two bags of frozen broccoli and brussel sprouts and formed these green vegetables into the shape of a turkey.  I roasted the “green turkey” in the oven with just a drizzle of olive oil, Himalayan sea salt and a dash of balsamic vinegar.  The oven was set on a timed bake cycle while I set out to run some errands.  My plan was that once I returned, the green vegetable turkey would be ready and cooled down.  I would then cover the top of the green turkey with mozzarella cheese and strips of puffed pastry.  Once baked, I hoped that it would resemble a turkey and would make a great centerpiece to our dairy Thanksgiving table.

That seemed like a great plan.  Except, there were two problems: Leah had a day off from school and the roasted broccoli and brussel sprout turkey smelled so delicious once ready.

And, Leah claims that there was a third problem, too.  My green turkey really didn’t bear a close enough resemblance to a turkey.  When she came down for her morning coffee, the timed bake timer was ringing and the oven had just shut off as planned.  She peeked inside the oven and just couldn’t resist tasting the mound of broccoli and brussel sprouts.  And, the taste was so delicious that she ate nearly the whole pan of vegetables.  Leah claimed that she had no idea that this was the start of a vegetable turkey.

So, it was back to the drawing board.

With no green vegetables left to recreate the Thanksgiving turkey, I had to try something else.  So, I opted to reintroduce Thanksgiving to our dairy feast with these adorable Pilgrim hats.

The good news is..they are so simple that my four year old granddaughter made them with a bit of assistance from Davida, my youngest daughter.  It took only two simple ingredients and just a few minutes to prepare.

And, Leah is still busy taste-testing.

simple pilgrim hats by Avigail

INGREDIENTS

Chocolate OREO’s or chocolate sandwich cookies
Reese’s mini peanut butter cups

DIRECTIONS

Unwrap all the peanut butter cups, removing the outer foil wrap and the paper wrapper around the chocolate. Carefully separate the sandwich cookies, taking care to leave some cream o both cookies.

Gently press the peanut butter cup into the center of the cookie, using the cream from the center to help adhere the peanut butter cup.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Simple as Pie Pretzel Pizza

simple as pie pretzel pizza.JPG

Now that they have changed the clock, Shabbos starts and ends an hour earlier. Traditionally, we eat a meal called a Melave Malke (literally, Escorting the Queen) to accompany the Shabbos queen from our homes.

Typically, after the meat-based Shabbos meals, the Melave Malke meal is dairy.  Aaron, who has been our official Melave Malke cook is in Cleveland, so I am mostly on my own to prepare Motzei Shabbos (Saturday night).  Some family favorite Melave Malka delicacies are Baked Spaghetti Squash with Sauce and Cheese and Calzones.  

On the first Motzei Shabbos after changing the clock, I decided to change things up.  Rather than order or prepare from-scratch pizza, I decided to layer on-hand ingredients to prepare something delicious and different.

I prepared a pizza pretzel pie.  It started with frozen pretzels.  I spread the pretzels out atop a bed of wraps.  I then layered sauce and sprinkled a blend of shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese.  I baked it all for 20 minutes and voila! We had simple as pie pretzel pizza.

INGREDIENTS

wheat wraps or flour tortillas
frozen pretzels (like Superpretzel)
marinara sauce
shredded cheese

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Line a pizza pan with parchment paper. Spread a layer of tortillas or wraps, overlapping slightly, until the entire pizza pan is covered. Place pretzels on top and then brush with sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Optionally, sprinkle with topping such as sesame seeds, fresh garlic or chopped vegetables.

Bake for 15-30 minutes, until the cheese has melted.

Shavuah Tov! (good week)

Cheesy Cabbage Steaks

This week, I decided to prepare a delicious, colorful and low-carb dairy dinner.  Since I had just returned from an overseas trip, I found my refrigerator and pantry low-stocked. With very few ingredients to choose from, I opted to use the head of cabbage that I found in the refrigerator to prepare these of, so wonderful cheesy cabbage steaks.

Cabbage has many health benefits.  It is low in calories and carbs and high in fiber and vitamins. Cabbage is low in saturated fat and boasts high levels of vitamin C and vitamin K.  Best of all, it is inexpensive and available year-round.

I used red cabbage for this recipe, but any cabbage may be used.  In this simple recipe, the red cabbage creates a stunning purple backdrop to the velvety melted cheese on top. It may be used to Passover and is gluten free, too.

Cheesy cabbage steaks

INGREDIENTS

Red cabbage, cleaned and cut into steaks

4 minced garlic cloves or granulated garlic
coarse salt
coarse ground black pepper
olive oil or cooking spray

shredded cheese

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or greased foil.

Remove first 4-5 tough outer leaves of cabbage.  Clean cabbage and cut into 1/2 inch to 3/4 thick steaks.  Place cabbage steaks in a single layer on lined cookie sheets.   Drizzle with olive oil or generously spray with cooking spray.   Lightly sprinkle with salt, garlic and black pepper.

Roast for 40-45 minutes, checking that cabbage steaks are soft and just starting to brown before removing from oven.

 

Sprinkle shredded cheese over the cooked cabbage steaks.  Return to the oven for 10-15 minutes more until cheese is melted and gooey.

Enjoy!

Simply Perfect and Healthier Cheesecake

simply perfect cheesecake with fruitWe are counting the days until Shavuos (lit: weeks).

Yes.  Shavuos is the holiday that we literally count the days toward its arrival. We count 49 days (seven weeks) from Pesach (Passover) to Shavuos, blessing the sefira (counting) every evening from the second night of Pesach until Shavuos begins.

From a culinary perspective, many of us count the days until we can enjoy the delicious dairy foods that have become associated with Shavuos. We are commanded to eat dairy foods at our festive meals (Countdown to Shavuos: Floral Inspirations and Dairy Recipes) on Shavuos and cheesecake has become one of the iconic desserts associated with Shavuos.

Shavuos commemorates the receiving of the Torah by the Jewish nation. It also is the time that the wheat is harvested and the bikurim (first fruits) were brought to the Holy Temple in a lavish ceremony (Bekurim: First Fruits from Hollister).  So, this year’s cheesecake is decorated with fruits, so symbolic of the bikurim ceremony.

I have kept the preparation simple and have incorporated greek yogurt and light cream cheese into the recipe to make for a healthier cheescake.   The flavor and texture is still impeccably delicious.

Just like last year’s mini cheesecake recipe, this recipe does not require a springform pan or a water bath for baking.  It is best to bring the ingredients to room temperature just before preparation.   Preparation takes a few minutes and the baking is simple. It can be prepared as one round or rectangular cheesecake or in 12-16 mini ramekins.

simply perfect individual cheescake

SUPPLIES

spatula

food processor

mixer

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds light or regular cream cheese
2/3 cup sugar
8 ounce container of plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs

2 cups cookies or graham crackers, crushed

4 tablespoons butter

cooking spray

DIRECTIONS

It is best to bring the ingredients to room temperature before baking to prevent cracking, although I have made this recipe effectively with ingredients right out of the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Prepare cake pan or ramekins by generously spraying with cooking spray and/ or lining with parchment paper .

In food processor fitted with an S-blade, crush cookies and add butter, pulsing until mixture is fully incorporated.  You can also place cookies in a zipper bag and crush using a mallet or rolling pin, adding butter to the bag and kneading gently.  Gently press cookie-butter mixture into pan or ramekins.

Beat cream cheese, yogurt, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a food processor or with a mixer, just until smooth and creamy.  You can also use a whisk to incorporate and beat all these ingredients.  You will have to scrape sides of bowl to incorporate everything well until combined, smooth and creamy.

Pour mixture into pans or ramekins, filling 2/3 of the way to the top.  I find it easiest to pour the mixture from a glass measuring cup with a spout..

Bake mini ramekins for 15 minutes, 3-4″ ramekins for about 18-20 minutes and larger pan for 30 minutes.  Turn oven off and leave in oven to another hour.

Remove from the oven and cool completely.  Chill the ramekin cheesecakes for at least 2 hours and the larger cheesecake for at least 4 hours.  Gently remove cheesecake(s) from pan(s).

Garnish with fruit, berries, edible leaves and flowers. Dust with powdered sugar right before serving.

 

Don’s Birthday Ice Cream Cake

dons birthday cake sliced.jpg

For Don’s birthday every year, I prepare a birthday cake for him. It doesn’t need to be fancy or fussy.  It just needs to contain lots and lots of his favorite ice cream….Baskin Robbins Jamoca Almond Fudge.

To Don, there is nothing quite like this flavor.  Because…Don knows what he likes in ice cream.

In Haagen Dazs, it is coffee.

In Breyers, it is Butter Almond (not butter pecan-I’ve made that mistake more than once).

In Friendly’s, it is chocolate almond chip.

But his most favorite,  most beloved food he’d take if he was stranded on a dessert island really is Baskin Robbins Jamoca Almond Fudge.

So, I’ve learned to not mess with that favorite ice cream flavor choice. And, most years, I just buy cartons of this cherished ice cream and mold it as is with no other ingredients.

This year, I thought that I would be a bit more creative.  I made a simple ganache with coffee and chocolate and crushed some coffee-flavored wafers to place between the ice cream layers.  I was careful not to detract too much from the star of the cake, the Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream.

Happy Birthday, Don!

 

 

INGREDIENTS

2-4 quarts of ice cream
milk
chocolate wafers
chocolate chips
chocolate for garnish
sprinkles (optional)
whipped cream

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Freeze ice cream in layers until firm.  I used disposable round pans.

Prepare crumb layers by crushing wafers and adding just enough milk for the crumbs to hold together.

Use a large disposable plate or parchment-covered base to create ice cream cake:  Starting and ending with ice cream layer, layer ice cream layers and crumb layers. Freeze until firm.

Prepare ganache by melting 1-2 cups of chocolate or chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons of milk and 1 teaspoon of coffee.  Melt over low heat until smooth and creamy.

Remove ice cream cake from freezer and carefully pour ganache over cake, allowing some of the ganache to puddle at the bottom.

Freeze until firm.  Using a spatula, reapply puddled ganache to the sides of the cake. Optionally, press sprinkles into sides of cake.

Garnish top of cake with whipped cream and favorite chocolate garnish.

Low-Carb Zucchini Pizza

Zucchini is one of those fresh ingredients that I almost always have on hand in my refrigerator.  I use it in a myriad of ways:  in my Simply the best chicken soup…ever!, in Warm Zucchini-Mushroom Salad with Almonds and Sunflower Seeds, in Simply the Best Low-Carb Zucchini Soup and a myriad of other recipes, many of which you will find on this blog.  Just about every member of the family likes zucchini.

But, who knew that you could make a delicious pizza crust from zucchini?

zucchini pizza up close.jpg

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Leah’s Simple Pasta Saute

Leah prepared the most heavenly pasta dish last night.  It is one of those dishes that can be made pareve or with additional melted cheese for a dairy dinner.  It uses simple ingredients and creates a heavenly combination of pasta, onions, garlic and vegetables.

Leah prefers whole wheat pasta, but it can be made with any shape or type of pasta-your choice.  This recipe is simple and delicious.

Enjoy!

leah's pasta saute

INGREDIENTS

1 pound of pasta

1 onion, thinly sliced or diced

2-3 garlic cloves or granulated garlic

1 pint of small grape tomatoes, rinsed and cut in half

salt and pepper to taste

fresh herbs (optional)

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the pasta according to package directions and drain.

Over medium heat, saute onion and garlic until soft.  Add tomatoes and seasonings, stirring gently to combine.  Cook for several minutes.  Add pasta and combine all flavors. Saute for 1-2 minutes more.

Shut heat and add mozzarella cheese.  Cover until cheese is melted.

Garnish with fresh herbs.

 

RECIPE COURTESY OF LEAH RESPLER

 

When Pancakes Meet Sprinkles…

When Avigail and JuJu (the grandchildren) come to visit Bobby (that’s me), they  look forward to breakfast. Usually, I bring them downstairs and serve breakfast before Kaitlyn wakes up.  Avigail likes to watch the birds at the bird feeders eating “birdie food”.  JuJu just barks at the birds.

Both grandchildren’s favorite breakfast is pancakes.  When time is short, I just buy frozen pancakes, microwave them and then serve them with whipped cream and sprinkles.   When Davida is around, she makes delicious, fluffy pancakes from scratch.  She adds chocolate chips and sprinkles to make them sweet, colorful and irresistible.

Here is Davida’s recipe:

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups flour
dash salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs

a few tablespoons chocolate chips, chocolate chunks and/or sprinkles

3 tablespoons butter or oil

DIRECTIONS

Pour flour, sugar, salt, sugar and baking powder in bowl and use a dry whisk to combine well.  Add milk and eggs until just combined, using a wooden spoon or heavy rubber spatula.  Do not overmix.  Gently stir in chocolate chips, chunks and/or sprinkles.

Heat butter or oil in large fry pan or spray griddle with cooking spray and preheat.  Reduce heat to medium and carefully ladle out pancake batter onto pan in small circles, leaving some room between pancakes.  Flip each pancake over when bubbles start to form.  Remove each pancake batch when both sides of the pancakes are golden-brown.

If making many batches, you may have to carefully wipe out the fry pan and refresh the butter/oil, so that the butter/oil does not burn.

 

VARIATIONS

You can substitute a ripe banana for some of the milk .  Just mash the banana well and use 3/4 cup of milk together with the banana in place of the full 1 1/2 cups of milk.

pancakes with sprinkles 2

Cauliflower Personal Pizza: Simple and Low-Carb

Davida has been my lunch-time cook and she made this delicious cauliflower pizza for me today for lunch.  She used cauliflower couscous to create the crust and then just layered sauce and cheese atop the crust.

cauliflower personal white pizza.jpg

It was relatively simple to prepare and delicious to eat.  Thanks, Davida!

 

INGREDIENTS

1/2 head of cauliflower, grated to couscous consistency (see kosher notes)
1 egg
1/2 cup grated or shredded cheese
1 clove garlic, minced or garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup marinara sauce (optional)

 

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Pulse the cauliflower in food processor or blender until grated to the consistency of couscous.

Microwave cauliflower on high for 4 minutes.  In a large bowl, combine microwaved cauliflower couscous, egg, cheese, and seasonings.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray generously with oil spray. Using a rubber spatula, spread the cauliflower mixture to personal size..

Bake until the cauliflower crust is golden and darker at the edges, about 20 minutes.

Remove the crust from the oven, drizzle with optional sauce and then sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake for about 10 minutes more.

Allow to cool for several minutes before slicing or eating.

 

VARIATIONS

Replace cauliflower with broccoli for another flavor alternative.

Add toppings on top of cheese.  Suggested toppings include strips of peppers, diced onions or scallions, chives or basil.

 

KOSHER NOTES

Kosher laws disallow the eating of  any whole insects and therefore  cauliflower require a process of soaking, rinsing and in some cases, pureeing.   Kashrut authorities differ on the proper checking of  cauliflower and some disallow its use altogether.  This blog was not designed to be your  kosher authority, so please consult your local rabbinic authority regarding using and preparing cauliflower.

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Simple Cheesy Zucchini Logs: Gluten Free and Low-Carb

Davida and her friend, Chava, made delicious calzones for Melave Malke a few weeks ago: Davida’s Easy and Delicious Calzones for a Melave Malka Feast. Although the calzones looked and smelled heavenly, Don and I were  only able to enjoy them vicariously. Since we are still on low-carb diets, we needed to find an alternative cheesy dish.

We scrubbed zucchini, cut them is half logs and roasted them for 12-15 minutes .  Once roasted, we scooped out some of the pulp and then filled them with cheese.  We put them into the oven for 5-10 minutes more and voila!

These will make a perfect and simple low-carb recipe for Shavuos (Countdown to Shavuos: Floral Inspirations and Dairy Recipes).  Enjoy!

zucchini logs-up close

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Simple and Easy 5-Ingredient No-Boil Lasagna

 

no-boil-lasagna-before-cooking

 

This is the simplest and most delicious lasagna recipe that you will ever make.  It requires one mixing bowl and one baking lasagna pan with no boiling .  It creates a firm and easy to slice lasagna with minimal effort and mess.  It takes only a few minutes to prepare and one hour of oven time.

You can use either no-boil lasagna noodles or regular lasagna noodles.  For the no-boil lasagna noodles,   I prefer the ones that are wavy.   If you opt to use regular lasagna noodles, just add more watered-down sauce in the last step to the corners of your pan.  That way, the regular lasagna noodles will soften sufficiently during the baking process.

It is one of our family favorites and it will become yours, too.

lasagna-portion (more…)

Simple Mini Cheesecakes with Gorgeous Garnishes

Shavuos is on its way!  Cheesecake is one of the staples of the upcoming holiday of Shavuos, since we are commanded to eat dairy foods at our festive meals (Countdown to Shavuos: Floral Inspirations and Dairy Recipes) on Shavuos.

This year, Don and I are still on a low-carb diet.    We didn’t want to forego cheesecake, but I wanted to make sure to use a minimum of carbs in my cheesecake preparation.  I decided to create portion-size cheesecakes to keep the portion size well-controlled.  This will allow us to enjoy a taste of heaven without feeling deprived, but keeping our diet “cheating” to a minimum.

Best of all, I skipped the carb-heavy crust and created some beautiful and tasty garnishes to embellish these simple and delicious mini cheesecakes.  They are light, delicious, fresh-tasting, gluten-free and simply divine.

This recipe does not require a springform pan or a water bath for baking.  It is best to bring the ingredients to room temperature just before preparation.  Preparation takes a few minutes and the baking takes less than 20 minutes.  It is best made in disposable or porcelain ramekins.  It makes 6 medium size or 12 mini ramekins.

 

Supplies

3-4 inch ramekins Set of 6 three ounce ramekins or aluminum disposable mini ramekins 39mm

 

Ingredients

1 pound cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

mini cheese cakemini cheese cake with strawberry and chocolate garnishmini cheese cake with chocolate barkmini cheese cake with chocolate bark only

Directions

It is best to bring the ingredients to room temperature before baking to prevent cracking, although I have made this recipe effectively with ingredients right out of the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Spray ramekins with cooking spray.

Beat  cream cheese with eggs with a whisk, in a food processor or with a mixer, just until smooth and creamy.  Add rest of ingredients, beating and incorporating well.  You may have to scrape sides of bowl to incorporate everything well until combined, smooth and creamy.

Pour mixture into ramekins, filling 2/3 of the way to the top.  I find it easiest to pour the mixture from a glass measuring cup with a spout..

Bake mini ramekins for 15 minutes, 3-4″ ramekins for about 18-20 minutes.  Cheesecake will rise slightly.  Centers should be set, although the cheese cake will appear to be slightly jiggly.

Remove from the oven and  cool completely.  Chill the cheesecakes in the ramekins for at least 2 hours or overnight.

The cheese cakes can be served directly  in the ramekins or can be removed from the ramekins and served upside side.  If removing from the ramekins, carefully turn over on a serving plate.  Allow cheese cake to rest for a few minutes before garnishing.

Garnish with fruit, berries, edible leaves and flowers, chocolate bark (Chards of Colorful Chocolate Bark: Whimsical and Delicious)or whole or crumbled cookies.

 

Variations

This recipe can be made as a small single cheesecake.  Generously grease a round baking pan.  Prepare ingredients as above and pour ingredients into greased round pan.  Increase baking time to 30 minutes or until center is set.  Garnish as above.

 

Prepare a crust by crumbling 1 cup of  your favorite cookies with 3 tablespoons of melted butter or coconut oil.  Press into the bottom of each ramekin and bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool before pouring cheesecake batter over the crust.  Continue to bake as above.  You may have to gently coax cheesecake out of ramekin or pan using a smooth knife to unseat the edges of the crust.

mini cheese cake with crust and edible pansies

Chards of Colorful Chocolate Bark: Whimsical and Delicious

Chocolate Bark is so versatile and beautiful.  The finished product can be elegant, playful or whimsical, depending upon the ingredients selected.   The background can be any type of chocolate, dairy or pareve.  The embellishments can be any combination of sweet or savory to create beautiful colors, tastes and textures.

I have tried so many different types of barks and every one has been a winner.  I like to spread the chocolate as thin as possible, so that a little bit of chocolate creates the thinnest piece of luxurious decadence.  Once the bark has cooled, I break it into asymmetric chards.  I serve these by themselves or as an embellishment to fudgy brownies or ice cream.

chocolate bark confetti as embellishment

 

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Davida’s Easy and Delicious Calzones for a Melave Malka Feast

Melave Malka (Saturday night meal) is the name given to the meal that we eat at the Shabbos has departed.  The literal meaning of the words Melave Malka is “accompaniment of the queen”, referring to our escorting of the Shabbos Queen out of our homes after the spiritually uplifting Shabbos.  The Shabbos is often metaphorically described as a Queen and the purpose of the Melave Malka meal is to figuratively escort the Shabbos away with singing and eating,  much as one would escort a royal guest who is about to leave.

According to Kaballah,  the luz bone at the base of the skull is nourished by the Melave Malkah meal.  The Neshoma Ye’sara (additional soul)  that accompanies a person through the Shabbos does not leave until after the Melave Malka has been enjoyed.  

Aaron used to be our resident Saturday night cook and we always looked forward to his delicious dairy Melave Malka dishes.  He had quite a repertoire of Melave Malka selections like pasta, pizza and all types of popcorn.  Now that Aaron is studying in yeshiva in Israel, Davida has cheerfully taken over this role.  She has become an excellent Saturday night cook and has brought  Melave Malka to a whole new level.

This Motzei Shabbos (Saturday Night), Davida and her friend, Chava, made the most delicious cheese calzones.  She prepared the ingredients and before we knew it, we had delicious warm calzones to enjoy for  our Melave Malka.   I asked her to share the recipe and now I am happy to share it with all of you.

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Pizza Potatoes

One of the simplest and most satisfying Erev Pesach (Pesach eve)  and Chol Hamoed (middle days of Passover) meals for the kids has been pizza potatoes.  It is gluten-free and it is not one of those menu items that we prepare often during the year when we have pasta and pizza available to us.  But it is a simple and filling dairy dish, perfect for Pesach (Passover).  The kids look forward to Pesach pizza potatoes throughout the year.

 

INGREDIENTS

whole potatoes
your favorite pizza sauce
shredded cheese

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Bake potatoes in oven for 40-60 minutes. Slice potato in half lengthwise and spread sauce and cheese on each half.

pizza potatoes uncooked

Bake for 15 minutes more, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

 

pizza potatoes

VARIATIONS

Try using different types of potatoes and even sweet potatoes.

Add your favorite pizza toppings like peppers, onions, mushrooms, scallions, chives, fresh mozzarella and basil.

Enjoy!

 

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Sauce and Cheese

Davida and her friend, Chava, made dinner for themselves this week.  They looked around the kitchen and found a spaghetti squash sitting on the counter.  They roasted it, scraped it, filled it with sauce and cheese and then rebaked it just until the cheese melted.

It was a simple and delicious meal, gluten free and kosher for Passover.  I think it will be one of my new favorites, too.  Thanks, Davida and Chava!

spaghetti squash in shell (more…)

Simple Low-Carb Broccoli Crust Pizza: Perfect for Passover

brocolli pizza crust-in ovenCauliflower rice has become the rage as an ingredient in faux fried rice and as a low-carb pizza crust alternative.  As an experiment, I tried similar adaptations of broccoli and have found it to work beautifully.

My family is always looking for something delicious and nutritious to eat on Erev Pesach (the eve and day before Passover begins).  Since we cannot eat bread and it is customary not to eat Matzo until the seder, it is a challenge to find satisfying foods that will keep everyone full until the seder begins later in the evening  evening.

I have created this delicious low-carb broccoli pizza recipe, suitable for Pesach.  It is a simple pizza to prepare and pretty much fool-proof, as long as you keep the crust as dry as possible.  It is important to squeeze out any liquid before baking and to layer the cheese on before any sauce to keep the crust as dry as possible.  Feel free to experiment with different toppings.

It is simple.  It is delicious.  It will create a wow for your family this Erev Pesach.

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Simple and Passover-Ready Individual Mushroom Onion Quiches

My friend’s daughter, Gila, is getting married and her friends planned a shower for her.  I volunteered to make a dairy Onion-Mushroom Quiche.

Since the shower guests may be arriving at different times, I thought that it would be best to prepare individual mini-quiches.  That way, the platters would look complete all evening and the individual quiches could be easily warmed up as needed.

This is one of my favorite go-to recipes.  It is simple.  It is low-carb.  It is suitable for Passover and an excellent Chol Hamoed (Passover intermediate days) dish.  Serve it up with a fresh green salad and it is a winner!

quiche-baking in oven

 

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Wow Waffles: A Recipe Simple Enough for Papa

Avigail (age 2) and JuJu (age 11 months) are here to visit.  Avigail announced that she would like “eggies” for dinner and that JuJu would like waffles.

We all know that JuJu enjoys anything that Avigail decides for him and will even finish Avigail’s omelet, if given the chance.  JuJu loves to eat, especially when his sister has been involved in the food decision.

Sure enough, Avigail ate most of her omelet and then fed the rest to JuJu.  Once finished, she announced,”so when are we making the waffles for JuJu?”.  I was thinking that she was ready for bedtime, but my husband, Don (“Papa” to the grandchildren), took the request as the opportunity to start a cooking adventure with his two year-old granddaughter, Avigail (at close to 9 P.M.!).

Don asked questions like “where do I find your waffle recipe?”, “what does vanilla look like?” and “where do you store the waffle iron?”

I was scared.  Avigail and  “Papa” were delighted. (more…)

Low Carb Waffles: Simple and Delicious

Since I started my high-protein, low-carb diet, I have been enjoying vegetable omelets for breakfast. Today, I decided to try something different. I made some low-carb waffles. It was simple. It was dietetic. Unbelievably, it was quite delicious (at least to carb-craving me.)

This diet requires fat like butter and buttermilk  You can easily replace the buttermilk with any kind of milk and the butter with olive oil.

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Simple Crockpot Mushroom Soup: Low Carb

Don and I just started a high-protein, low carb diet.  I have to admit that I’ve never been on an official diet before and I’m excited for the challenge. I visited my local market today and spent hours perusing the aisles for ingredients that will work for this new diet. I bought items that I never thought that I would use, items like soy flour and sugar-free caramel syrup. Now the challenge will be to create exceptional flavor with new ingredients. I thought that I would start by modifying some of my favorite recipes to meet the parameters of this new diet. To keep the blog updated with these diet-friendly recipes, I have created a new category on the blog menu for low-carb recipes. (more…)