For adults only: Chocolate Espresso Covered Frozen Bananas

When Zach and Yale were little I made them all kinds of fun foods to eat.  It was not that they were picky eaters, they were the opposite but I just loved making everyday food fun so they dined on egg boats, egg in a hole, pancakes with happy faces, cookie cutter sandwiches and frozen banana treats. But now that they are older and their tastes have changed from sprinkles to hemp and chia (seeds). I think that Zach and Yale will approve.  You are never to old for a chocolate treat.


Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces of good quality dark chocolate 
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder, (optional)
  • dash of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 bananas
  • 8 wooden craft stick, I bought mine at the Dollar Store
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts, (I like to use pecans or walnuts)
  • 2 tablespoons hemp hearts
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flakes 
  • dried fruit, chopped

Directions:

  1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or wax paper.
  2. Cut bananas in half and insert popsicle sticks, put the bananas on the lined baking sheet and freeze for 30 minutes.
  3. Melt chocolate in a double boiler, add salt, vanilla and espresso powder and stir well.
  4. Place chopped nuts, hemp, chia seeds, dried fruit and coconut in a shallow bowel.
  5. Dip the partially frozen bananas in the melted chocolate and then roll them in the crushed nut mixture.
  6. Place on the parchment lined baking sheet and place back in  freezer for at least 1 hour or until frozen.
  7. When frozen wrap in wax paper until ready to eat.

Have fun with these frozen bananas, you can use whatever nuts or dried fruit you like.  I have tried them with chopped dried cherries, apricots, sunflower seeds and oatmeal flakes.  For a really decadent treat dip the top of the bananas in peanut or almond butter before dipping in chocolate. I like to take them out of the freezer for about 5 minutes before serving.

 Here is my inspiration from Rachael Ray.

TWO SOUPS TO FEED THE SOUL… VEGETABLE AND LEEK & POTATO SOUP

24 Volunteers
1 Rabbi
15 pounds of potatoes
5 pounds of carrots
and a pound of onions
…take all these “ingredients” and what do you get?
4 stock-pots of delicious soup!

I was thrilled to have the  honour of leading a group in women in soup-making for the Bikur Cholim Soup Brigade evening at Holy Blossom Temple. Bikur Cholim is Hebrew for “visiting the sick”, and what we did was chop, dice and stir two big batches of soup.  While the soup simmered the room filled up not only with delicious cooking smells, but the warmth of people working together and a Talmud study session lead by Rabbi Teri Appleby. We all left that evening with a good feeling in our hearts, leaving behind 100 containers of some great-tasting soup that will help warm some people over the coming winter months.

Here is the link to Holy Blossom’s Bikur Cholim if you would like to know more.

Here are the two recipes we made:

Vegetarian Vegetable Soup 

This recipe serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 carrots, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced, (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 small zucchini, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup green or yellow beans, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chopped savoy cabbage, sliced
  • ½ cup orzo or any small pasta

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl mash half of the beans with a masher or the back of a spoon, and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery, sauté until soft. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another few minutes or until the garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add the water and tomatoes with the juice.
  4. Then add the vegetables, the thyme, sage, salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to a boil.
  6. Add the mashed and whole beans.
  7. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
  8. Taste and adjust seasonings, you may need more salt and pepper.

Leek and Potato Soup

This recipe serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 potatoes, diced
  • 2 large leeks, white part only, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme, fresh
  • 1 – 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

 Directions:

  1. Rinse the leeks and slice them thinly.
  2. Dice the potatoes, carrots and celery.
  3. Heat the oil in a large stockpot, sauté the leeks for a few minutes.
  4. Add the onion and garlic and continue cooking until onions are soft.
  5. Add the potatoes, carrots and celery.
  6. Add the water, salt, thyme and bay leaves.
  7. Simmer until the vegetables are very soft, about 20 minutes.
  8. Add the pepper.
  9. Remove the bay leaves.
  10. Puree soup in blender or with hand blender.
  11. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

Cooks Notes:  Both theses soups are great basic recipes.
Here are a few suggestions to make these soups your own…

For the vegetable soup:

  • Add some red or white wine 
  • You can add some little meatballs, (cook meatballs in the oven then add to the soup).
  • Add a parmesan rind while the soup is simmering.
  • Drizzle some pesto over the soup just before serving.
  • Garnish with fresh herbs like basil or parsley

For the Leek and Potato Soup:

  • Garnish with chives or fresh parsley.
  • Garnish with some crumbled goat cheese or sharp cheddar.
  • Toast some bruschetta with a little olive oil for dipping.
  • Make the soup creamy with some cream or milk.
  • Or for an Asian twist add a tin of coconut milk and a dash of curry powder and a chunk of ginger (omit the thyme and bay leaves).
  •  

CANADIAN MAPLE GRANOLA

My brother-in-law Len is visiting from Perth, Australia.  So to make him feel at home I am baking him a batch of granola made with pure Ontario maple syrup. Welcome to Canada!

Here is my basic recipe for a healthful granola.  You need just a bit of maple syrup for sweetness, a variety of nuts, seeds and dried fruit to pull it all together. This is easy to make with kids, you bake the base and they add all the fun stuff to make it their own.

My secret to a very crunchy granola is to use a combination of flakes.  Some of my favourite combinations are equale parts of oat flakes, spelt flakes, rye flakes and quinoa flakes.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups raw oat flakes (or combination of flakes)
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup (you can use honey in place of maple syrup)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup apricots
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • ¾ cup unsweetened dried flaked coconut
  • ⅓ cup chopped or sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon flax or chia seeds
  • 2 cups assorted dried fruit, like apricots, raisins, cranberries, cherries, dates, etc.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Place the oats in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Mix the oats with maple syrup and the melted coconut oil.  Add the salt, vanilla and cinnamon and stir until well combined.
  4. Spread the granola out on a large baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring every few minutes to prevent burning.
  5. Let the granola cool completely.
  6. Add the coconut flakes, nuts and seeds, flax or chia seeds and dried fruits.
  7. Stir to combine.
  8. Store in a glass jar.