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During this past Friday’s rainstorm, Eliza and I made homemade granola. Store-bought granola annoys me because it is usually expensive, cloyingly sweet, the raisins are too hard, and it isn’t that healthy. The following recipe, which I have been making for over a decade, is full of ground flaxseed, wheat germ, nuts, and is just a tad sweet thanks to a bit of molasses. It tastes great on its own, with milk, on ice cream, and of course over yogurt. My favorite way to eat granola, thanks to a recommendation from Design Sponge, is with plain Greek yogurt, a little bit of honey, and sections of pink grapefruit. I know, the combination sounds bizarre, but trust me, it is crazy delicious.

While Eliza napped, I got the ingredients together, including chopping the nuts.


Walnuts and Pecans_Web

I did all of the measuring and Eliza did the mixing. Like any good cook, she needs her essentials close by, in her case, that includes two sippy cups and her Froggie.

Raw Granola_Web

Even before the granola was finished baking she couldn’t resist a taste!

Before the Oven w Hand_Web

Toasty, nutty, and delicious. Yum!

Finished Granola_Web

Homemade Granola

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup toasted wheat germ
¼ cup ground flax seed
1 ts. ground cinnamon
1 ts. ground ginger
½ cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup chopped pecans
4 TB molasses
⅓ cup canola oil
⅓ cup water

Heat oven to 300 degrees and place rack in center.

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, wheat germ, ground flax seed, cinnamon, ginger, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and pecans. In a small bowl, combine molasses, oil, and water, and pour over the oat mixture; stir until well coated. Spread evenly in a baking pan.

Bake, stirring every 15-20 minutes for even cooking, until dry and lightly browned, about 40 minutes. Let granola cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.



When Eliza was 6 months old I started her on solid food. For several months I spent my weekends cooking and pureeing all sorts of vegetables and fruits, and then freezing them into cute, 1-inch cubes for her breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For awhile, she pretty much ate anything I gave her, including broccoli. I thought I had hit the food lover’s jackpot – a child that ate like an adult! Ha, ha, ha – I was wrong.

When Eliza turned one she started to exert her strong will, and let us know with a vigorous shake of her head that she would no longer try anything new. Pretty quickly my veggie-loving baby only ate bread, pasta and some fruit. It could have been heartbreaking for me, but I kept in mind that I too was a difficult eater from childhood through my early 20’s. I knew she would most likely turn around at some point, and it wasn’t worth the hassle to argue with a mini Neanderthal.

Fortunately, as Eliza has grown into a toddler she has become more interested in food. Not so much eating it, but she does pay close attention to me when I am cooking, and has become an enthusiastic helper in the kitchen. Sometimes she will even try something because we made it together – progress. Our latest adventures in baking involved three of her favorite foods – applesauce, walnuts, and muffins – so, unsurprisingly it was a hit! Now, if only I could hide some veggies in those muffins…

Applesauce Spice Muffins
I am not a huge lover of muffins, but this recipe from Gourmet is so good I kept sneaking bites of them when Eliza wasn’t looking.
(Note: I didn’t have allspice, so I used ¼ ts. of ground cloves, and added another ¼ ts. each of the cinnamon and nutmeg)

One of her favorite snacks. She kept eating them while we were making the muffins.

She’s a natural – such care and precision.

Guess I spoke too soon….

Eliza loves to stir.

I think her favorite part was sprinkling the cinnamon sugar on the muffins before they went into the oven.

Hot out of the oven! These smelled great. Perfect for the entire family.


Every Christmas, my Dad gives me a new cookbook. Of course, I can buy a cookbook anytime of the year, but this tradition is special to me, and I like to save the cookbook I am most excited about for him to give to me. This year, the choice was easy –  Jerusalem: a Cookbook. Written by two chefs, one Jewish and one Muslim originally from said city, this gorgeous book is full of interesting recipes and some history about the food culture of the region. Italian food may always be my favorite cuisine, but Middle Eastern is a close second. I could eat hummus everyday, and often do; so, I was super excited to dive into this cookbook.

The following recipes are the first that I have had a chance to try. I do not have the vocabulary to describe just how delicious this chicken dish is. To say that it is tasty or mouthwatering or even mind-blowing is not doing it justice. Not to give short shrift to the roasted squash and red onion side dish, but nothing compares to this chicken.

(Note: I didn’t include this meal during a regular meal plan post because a few of the ingredients are a bit unusual, and while it is deceptively easy to prepare, the marinating makes it more of a weekend dish.)

bil-hanā’ wa ash-shifā’!
(bon appetit in Arabic and Hebrew – I hope!)

Roasted Chicken with Clementines and Arak
Serves 4

Chix and Clementines_Web

6 ½ TB. arak, ouzo or Pernod
4 TB. olive oil
3 TB. freshly squeezed orange juice
3 TB. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 TB. grain mustard
3 TB. light brown sugar
2 medium fennel bulbs
1 large chicken (about 2 ¾ lb.), divided into 8 pieces, or the same weight in skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
4 clementines, unpeeled, cut horizontally into ¼-inch slices
1 TB. thyme leaves
2 ½ ts. fennel seeds, lightly crushed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish

(Note: I made this with skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts and they didn’t produce as much cooking liquid as chicken thighs or a whole chicken so I skipped the last step. I also couldn’t find fennel seeds and it was okay without.)

Put the first six ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and add 2 ½ ts. salt and 1 ½ ts. black pepper. Whisk well and set aside.

Trim the fennel and cut each bulb in half lengthwise. Cut each half into 4 wedges. Add the fennel to the liquids, along with the chicken pieces, clementine slices, thyme, and fennel seeds. Stir well with your hands, then leave to marinate in the fridge for a few hours or overnight (skipping the marinating stage is fine, if you are pressed for time).

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Transfer the chicken and its marinade to a baking sheet large enough to accommodate everything comfortably in a single layer; the chicken skin should be facing up. Once the oven is hot enough, put the pan in the oven and roast for 35-45 minutes, until the chicken is colored and cooked through. Remove from the oven.

Lift the chicken, fennel, and clementines from the pan and arrange on a serving plate; cover and keep warm. Pour the cooking liquid in a small saucepan, place over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, and then simmer until the sauce is reduced by one-third, so you are left with about ⅓ cup. Pour the hot sauce over the chicken, garnish with some parsley, and serve.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onion with Tahini and Za’atar
Serves 4

1 large butternut squash, cut into ¾ by 2 ½ inch
2 red onions, cut into 1 ¼ inch wedges
3 ½ TB. olive oil
3 ½ TB. tahini paste
1 ½ TB. lemon juice
2 TB. water
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
3 ½ TB. pine nuts
1 TB. za’atar
1 TB. coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

(Note: this made a lot more sauce than I think you need. Either cut the measurements for the sauce ingredients in half, or use the extra sauce on another dish. It would be great over grilled chicken or as a dip for pita bread. I used my extra sauce with this dish from Smitten Kitchen, later in the week.)

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

Put the squash and onion in a large mixing bowl, add 3 TB. of the oil, 1 ts. salt, and some black pepper and toss well. Spread on a baking sheet with the skin facing down and roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the vegetables have taken on some color and are cooked through. Keep an eye on the onions as they might cook faster than the squash and need to be removed earlier. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

To make the sauce, place the tahini in a small bowl along with the lemon juice, water, garlic and ¼ ts. salt. Whisk until the sauce is the consistence of honey, adding more water or tahini if necessary.

Pour the remaining 1 ½ ts. oil into a small frying pan and place over medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts along with ½ ts. salt and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, until the nuts are golden brown. Remove from the heat and transfer the nuts and oil to a small bowl to stop the cooking.

To serve, spread the vegetables out on a large serving platter and drizzle over the tahini sauce. Sprinkle the pine nuts and their oil on top, followed by the za’atar and parsley.

How was your lunch today? Did you eat the same sandwich or salad that you always bring to work or buy at a nearby deli? Yeah, me too.

Obviously, I put a lot of effort into planning dinners that are pretty varied, but when it comes to lunch – not so much. Most days, I pack my lunch because if I am going to spend $50 a week on food (lunch in Manhattan is rarely cheaper than $10 – so multiply that by 5) it had better be great, which unfortunately, it rarely is. I don’t usually mind the monotony, but once in awhile I have to mix it up.

Soup, especially this time of year, is such a treat in the middle of the day. My mom said that when I was a toddler I refused to eat anything that wasn’t hot. While my palate has expanded since then, I still think a hot lunch feels a little bit special. This lentil soup recipe will spice up your regular lunch routine and is super inexpensive. I haven’t figured out how much it costs per serving, but a bag of red lentils at my grocery store costs less than $2 and I only used half of the bag for this recipe.


Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

This is an especially good recipe if you haven’t tried or cooked with lentils before. It is super easy, relatively fast, and tastes fresher than your typical lentil soup. Inspired by Melissa Clark’s recipe, originally published in The New York Times, my recipe is a bit simpler to prepare. The lemon at the end is a must, but if you don’t have cilantro you can skip it.

3 TB. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 TB. tomato paste
1 ts. ground cumin
¼ ts. kosher salt, more to taste
¼ ts. ground black pepper
pinch of ground chili pepper or cayenne, more to taste
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
juice of ½ lemon, more to taste
3 TB. chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

In a large pot, heat olive oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and saute until golden, about 4 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, pepper and chili powder or cayenne, and saute for 2 minutes longer.

Add broth, 2 cups of water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Stir in lemon. Taste, and add salt if necessary. If serving immediately, add the cilantro, but if you are storing the soup for the future, skip the cilantro and add it after the soup has been re-heated, or not at all.



I’m not going to lie, I’ve waited over 22 months for this day. Ever since I got pregnant I’ve had fantasies of cooking and baking with my child. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve making chocolate with one of my Grandmas and baking cookies with the other. So, when the day came when I thought Eliza would not only stand still long enough, but actually enjoy baking with me I went for it!

This brownie recipe from an old Everyday Food was perfect for this adventure.

To start, I got all of the ingredients ready while she was safely in her highchair having a snack. Then, she crawled up onto the step stool, I put her adorable apron on her and we got to work! You can see that she was a natural at mixing the melted chocolate and butter together.

Eliza couldn’t help sneaking a taste of the chopped almonds before they went into the batter.


Fresh from the oven! All of the ingredients are mixed in the same pan that you bake the brownies in, which is convenient, but really messy. Flour, sugar and eggs go everywhere when you are mixing, especially when the mixer is a 22 month old! Next time I would probably prepare the batter in a bowl and then pour it into the pan for baking.

The recipe says that you can eat the brownies right out of the oven, which Eliza demanded, but they crumble just a bit too much. Let them cool, put them in the fridge for a couple of hours, and then cut them into squares. The almonds and cherries throughout are beautiful and delicious. Eliza approves!