In an effort to lose some weight, I am trying to go on a low-carb, high fat diet. I am failing at this endeavor mainly because of my love of sweets, which obviously contains sugar. So, basically I’m now just trying to avoid outright carbs like bread, rice, corn and pasta. However, I am still making somewhat of an effort to not eat as much sugar and fruit, so when I came across this recipe for a “cheese” cake made with cashews, and the crust made with almonds, I thought I might have ended my search for a diet-friendly dessert. The cake is made from almost all raw ingredients (except for the honey and coconut oil heated on the stove) and could even be vegan (if you substitute the honey for agave nectar). Usually I would be dubious of such a cake, but the picture looked so beautiful, I was intrigued. And, I have to say… not bad! Pretty good in fact!
1/2 cup raw almonds (pecan or walnuts will also work)
1/2 cup soft dates (got mine at Wholefoods’ bulk nuts section)
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ cups raw cashews
juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp vanilla extract)
1/3 cup raw coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup raw honey (solid or liquid.)
1 cup raspberries (thaw completely if using frozen)
1. Soak cashews in water for at least 5 hours. Overnight is best.
2. .Place nuts and dates in a food processor with salt and pulse to chop until they are to your desired fineness (process a finer crust longer than a chunky one). Test the crust by spooning out a small amount of mixture and rolling it in your hands. If the ingredients hold together, your crust is perfect. Scoop out crust mixture into a pie pan and press firmly, making sure that the edges are well packed and that the base is relatively even throughout. Rinse food processor well.
3. . Warm coconut oil and honey in a small saucepan on low heat until liquid. Whisk to combine.
4. In the most powerful food processor / blender you own (you decide which one has the most torque) place all filling ingredients (except raspberries) and blend on high until very smooth (this make take a couple minutes so be patient).
5. Pour about 2/3 (just eyeball it, you can’t make a mistake!) of the mixture out onto the crust and smooth with a spatula. Add the raspberries to the remaining filling and blend on high until smooth. Pour onto the first layer of filling. Place in freezer until solid.
6. To serve, remove from freezer 30 minutes prior to eating. Run a smooth, sharp knife under hot water and cut into slices. Serve on its own, or with fresh fruit. Store leftovers in the freezer.
I discovered this recipe a few weeks ago and it was so delicious, I made it again when making dinner for a fellowship meeting. It’s basically a great, but easy-to-make marinade using cilantro, yogurt and Indian spices which you simply mix with chicken and bake. I served it with my rice-cooker version of an Indian rice.
- 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon garam masala (found in most supermarkets)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 large garlic clove, pressed
- 41/2 – 5 lbs chicken thighs and drumsticks
1. Mix yogurt, chopped cilantro, olive oil, garam masala, salt, and garlic in a small bowl.
3. Place chicken on baking sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 45 mins.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 small onions, thinly sliced
- black pepper
- ground cloves
- ground cardamom
- ground cumin
- ground cinnamon
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 3 cups chicken broth (or 3 cups water and 3 chicken bouillon cubes)
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
1. Brown onions in oil and add the spices above. The original recipe calls for whole spices, so when I used ground ones I basically eye-balled or estimated what I thought the equivalent would be for: 12 black peppercorns, 8 whole cloves, 6 cardamom pods, 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds and 1 cinnamon stick, and then honestly, prayed that it would come out right (which it did!).
2. Combine the chicken broth and rice in a rice cooker. Add the onions and cook rice.
3. Once rice has finished cooking, mix in the almonds and raisins.
We’ve begun experimenting with coconut oil recently. So far, we’ve discovered that it’s delicious on toast. I’ve also since learned that it’s the magic ingredient in Magic Shell chocolate. However, the most amazing thing about coconut oil is that it prevents anything from sticking to the pan.
For the last few months, Noah has been trying to find a fool-proof way to make crispy, over-easy eggs that come off the pan easily. He even bought an infra-red thermometer to try to determine at what exact temperature the eggs should be cooked. All attempts with the thermometer have been fruitless. Randomly, one day we just happened to use coconut oil instead, and the eggs just slid right off the pan. Last week I was even able to make an over-easy egg pancake and the entire thing came off the pan intact.
Although we live on the opposite coast of our biological families, we are blessed to have so many friends here in the city who we think of as family. They all provided us with so much love and food after Marcy’s arrival, that we pretty much had no need to cook or leave our apartment for almost two weeks! However, at about the two-week mark, we were getting a bit stir crazy and I decided to make lunch. Thank goodness for the freezer (from where our chicken came) and a bag of spinach that a friend had thoughtfully and unexpectedly brought over. We had the makings of a complete meal! By the way, cooking this meal felt insanely good and refreshing.
Chicken: Brushed with a little mayo, sprinkled with a mix of bread crumbs, oregano, thyme, and basil, and then baked = amazing!
Salad: baby spinach, TJ’s New Zealand Sharp Cheddar (highly recommended), pecans, cranberries, pepitas, green onions.
Two nights later, Noah was inspired to make something involving fennel seed and came up with a really great Moroccan Chicken:
Not sure exactly what he did, but it involved lots of paprika and it was good!
While walking around in sunny New York yestesrday, I suddenly had a craving for a Ronnybrook pomegranate-blueberry milkshake. Realizing that we had milk and frozen blueberries in our kitchen, we stopped by Trader Joe’s, waited in line to buy a sole carton of vanilla ice cream and headed back home.
Final Product: this was a nice, thick shake and super delicious!
Amy, the one bonafide Chinese mom in our church group makes the best zhong zhes (basically, Taiwanese tamales). So, I had asked her if she would teach me how to make them and after several months, she willingly obliged. Lucky for me, her lesson happened to fall on the day of Noah’s birthday and zhong zhes are one of his favorite foods, so he got to come home to my first ever freshly-made zhong zhes for his birthday meal.
There are a lot of components to making zhong zhes, so I broke it down into the following parts…
Amy’s Zhong Zhe Recipe
1 lb pork, cut into ½” thick slices (2-3” long)
1 tbsp rice wine
1 tbsp soy sauce
sugar, to taste
pepper, to taste
Marinate pork overnight.
sweet glutinous rice
sugar, to taste
- Wash and rinse rice.
- Place rice in a bowl and fill the bottom with water, soy sauce and chicken broth. Add a little bit of sugar to the mixture.
- Turn the rice to combine with liquid. If desired, add black sesame seeds and scallions to the rice.
- Taste the liquid to see if it tastes right, and make any adjustments.
- Soak and refrigerate overnight.
Folding & Filling Zhong Zhes
Bamboo or Reed leaves, 2 per zhong (try to find the freshest, greenest ones)
Soaked Rice (see above)
Marinated Pork (see above)
- Soak leaves in water.
- Cut off the tip on one side of each leaf, creating a straight edge, about 3 inches down from the tip. Discard tips.
Folding Zhong Zhes…
- Take two leaves and overlap them, so that the smooth sides of each leaf face you and so that the back/bottom leaf lays about ½”-1” to the right of the front/top leaf. Straight edges should be at the top.
- Fold the straight edges down about 2-3”.
- Place your thumb just inside the first layer of leaves from the left and push the remaining layers to the right about ¾ of the width of the leaf, creating an opening. Crease the leaves along the length to the right, about ¾ of the width of the leaves. You should now have created a corner pocket with your leaves.
- Place the corner pocket in the palm of your left and use your hand to keep the shape of the corner pocket while you fill your zhong zhe.
Filling the Zhong Zhes…
- Fill the pocket with the rice mixture. Use your finger to push the rice to fill the corner pocket. Make a bed/indentation in the rice for the pork.
- Take one slice of pork and lay it on top of the rice.
- Take another scoop of rice and cover the pork.
Sealing the Zhong Zhes…
- Take the bottom of your leaves and fold them over the rice, to enclose the rice and pork.
- Make a crease in the leaves at the bottom right to create your third corner. Continue that crease along the right length of the zhong zhe, folding over the length of the leaves around the curve of the zhong and holding them in place with your hands.
- Push the left length of the zhong zhe to secure the rice in place and then crease your fourth and final corner at the bottom left. Continue the crease along the left length of the zhong zhe, folding over the length of the leaves around the curve of the zhong zhe and holding them in place with your hands.
- Use a string and wrap it around the zhong zhe at least 5-6 times, remembering to leave some string at the start to tie off the zhong zhe.
- Tie the string tightly in place.
Cooking the Zhong Zhes
- Place zhong zhes in a large pot. Fill pot with water until zhong zhes are just covered. Add soy sauce and a bit of salt to the water.
- Turn heat to high until water boils. Reduce heat to low and simmer for two hours.
- Turn zhong zhes so that any exposed parts are now submerged. Add 2 more cups water, boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for one more hour.
- Enjoy and freeze any leftovers for later.