Roasted Grapes with Yogurt Cream

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Roasting grapes brings out their natural sweetness and elevates them into an elegant, light, yet very easy dessert.  Seasoned with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar and sea salt, the grapes soften and blister as they roast, filling the kitchen with a delicious aroma.  Served warm with a dollop of Greek yogurt, this makes a really delicious and nutritious dessert.  The cool silkiness the the yogurt is a lovely contrast to the warm, spiced grapes which  burst in your mouth.  The result is something irresistible and completely seductive.  I fancied up the Greek yogurt with a bit of whipped cream, honey and some orange flower water.  You could easily serve the grapes with ready-to-go vanilla yogurt.  This recipe was inspired by The Pastry Studio blog and the original recipe can be found here.

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Date and Cinnamon Omelette

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When I first read about an omelette with dates, I was skeptical.  I love dates but I have never thought of putting them in an omelette.  The recipe was being referenced in a glowing review of a gorgeous new cookbook, The Saffron Tales by Yasmin Khan, in the holiday book guide of the Wall Street Journal.  On a cold November morning, I decided to try it.  It was surprising and quite delicious.  The sweetness of the caramelized dates in their warming spices commanded the most attention in the omelette and filled the kitchen with the most wonderful aroma.  The eggs seemed more of a vehicle for the sweet dates and this tasted more like a sweet breakfast than an egg dish but in the most delicious way.   It is absolutely essential to include the sea salt in the egg mixture to balance the sweetness of the dates.  I added a third egg to the omelette from the original recipe’s 2 eggs, since I felt there were a lot of dates and a larger omelette would allow for sharing.  This sweet omelette was a comforting, aromatic and nutritious breakfast enjoyed while lingering leisurely over the weekend papers.  A lovely way to ease into a  new  week.

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Shredded Brussel Sprout Salad with Pomegranate, Apple and Walnuts

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After all the Thanksgiving feasting and left over creations, you might be craving something light and healthy by now.  This salad, inspired by Philadelphia’s famous  Israeli restaurant Zahav, a personal favorite, is a modern take on tabbouleh.  It would be great on its own or with some added shredded left-over turkey or chicken or as a side to grilled fish.  Full of fall flavors and crunch, it introduces a surprise burst of flavor from quick pickled onions seasoned with the Middle Eastern spice, ground sumac.  Don’t have sumac, just add a squeeze more of lemon juice. Continue reading

Decadent Banana-Chocolate Bread Pudding

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After 67 days of living in temporary housing, we have moved back home, albeit to an ongoing construction zone.   What’s a girl to do in all this chaos?  Bake a decadent banana-chocolate bread pudding of course, because amidst the chaos, there was a left over bread, some cream for coffee for the crew, eggs and overripe bananas.  Oh, and chocolate, always chocolate!  This is a bread pudding incorporating good-for-you ingredients:  fiber and nutrient rich bananas, nuts, molasses and dark chocolate.  The bananas are puréed as if you were making banana bread.  Then when it’s ready, you add another layer of fresh bananas.  Bliss!

Because it can be prepped overnight and then popped into the oven for less than half an hour, it will make a fantastic day-after-Thanksgiving breakfast.  Your overnight guests will wake up smelling it baking, then drool when they see it and then just simply devour it, while still warm.  With fresh bananas sliced on top and served with a dollop of yogurt, ice cream or whipped cream, it is comfort food at its easiest and best.   I would have made the bread pudding into individual portions in a muffin pan, if only I could have found it among the hundreds of boxes still unpacked!

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Skinny Apple Cheesecake

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“A seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible”
Welsh Proverb

Is it not an oxymoron to call a cheesecake skinny? No! This low fat cheesecake was born from a windfall of apples and a lonely tub of cottage cheese in the fridge.  Calling it a “Cottage Cheese Apple Cheesecake” would surely have sent readers scurrying.  Yet making a cheesecake with cottage cheese totallly worked and reduced the fat content considerably. The texture of the cake was creamy and rich in spite of the absence of traditional cream cheese, much like that achieved with ricotta.  The sliced apples sautéed in brown sugar and butter made for a decadent  topping. The cake would be good also with a gingersnap crust for extra seasonal appeal.

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Chunky Cream of Mushroom Soup

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“It’s the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter.” Marlene Dietrich

This chunky cream of mushroom soup has superpowers.  We all know how good mushrooms are for our health and this soup packs 16 ounces of fungi and boasts 2 cups of carrots too.  It is flavored with a whopping 5 bay leaves.  It is thick and creamy, but made with milk not cream.   As far as cream of mushroom soups go, this one is outstanding.  But the superpowers I am talking about have nothing to do with the nutritional goodness of the soup and everything to do with its secret ingredient: love.  Over the years, It has nourished me back to health after surgery and comforted me while nursing a cold.   It recently made everything right in the world again as stressful construction in our home dragged on into a second month.  A dear friend knows how much I love this soup and it miraculously shows up at my doorstep just when I need it most, enveloping me with the warmest hug in the whole world.  I have made the soup myself and it was excellent.  But my favorite version is Dona’s special batch, made with love, everytime.

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Maple Apple-Raisin-Date Bread Pudding

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” Bread pudding makes me weak.”  Bill Rancic

Bread pudding is one of those comforting desserts that makes good use of stale bread and can be whipped together with just about any dried fruit from your pantry.  It is always a little bit different each time you make it.  I like to prepare it when the oven is already on for a roast on Sunday afternoons.  Feel free to tweak this recipe to your preference!  It also makes a great brunch dish as it can be assembled overnight and baked in the morning. It fills the house with the enticing aroma of the spices.  Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream on top for sheer decadence.

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