Dates stuffed with walnuts dipped in dark chocolate

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I want to pack these stuffed dates in their lunchboxes for a snack, but I know they won’t eat them. I’ve tried sending dried fruits and nuts before and they didn’t eat them. Alex even accused me of ruining his life. He claims that eating cockroach-looking dried fruit at recess is beyond embarrassing. (I thought bugs were cool?)

I hear you, son. If my mother had tried to send me one of those Moroccan marzipan-stuffed dates in my lunchbox, instead of the ever-popular choco (Israeli chocolate-milk-in-a-plastic-bag), I would be absolutely mortified.

Did I really think that covering the dates with chocolate would make them look less hostile and more appealing to Leo and Alex? The only way to make them more appealing to my store-bought-snack-deprived children would be to commercially package them in some kind of noisy wrapper. They claim that they are the only ones in school who don’t have a real snack. A “real snack,” ironically, means “in a crinkly bag,” like potato chips, Doritos, or a yucky, overly-sweet granola bar. So I say, “Well…When you are eighteen, you can eat whatever you want,” or, “No wonder most of the other kids are overweight.” Continue reading

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GREEN CABBAGE + HERB MINI FRITTATAS (Dairy-free + Gluten-free)

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Yes, I am alive, and today, after six hectic months, I can finally say, “alive and well.” I survived the move from our two-bedroom – and only one bathroom! –  townhouse to a three-bedroom – and three bathrooms!!! – townhouse. Two-and-a-half bath, technically. Now, we each have our own bathroom, almost.

I survived middle school madness. If you live in LA, you know exactly what I am talking about. Here, if you don’t live in a zone that has a good middle school, you are basically screwed. Unless you get lucky, like we did. Thanks to the universe, Leo ended up getting accepted to the SAS (School for Advanced Studies) program at our local middle school, which is considered to be good, and he also won two lotteries for two good charter schools. We chose to send him to the smaller and closer charter school.

I also survived the twenty-four-hour flight to Mallorca and back. Every time I fly, I swear I will never fly again. Then three months later I find myself again sitting, uprigh and tightly, in a crappy economy seat, cursing my inability to remember how horrible it is and the ants in my pants. I forget how much anxiety and exhaustion a few moments of air turbulence can cause. I know flying is safe (if you don’t fly over Ukraine.) “Safer than driving,” etc., etc. I get it. But somehow when the plane starts shaking and making scary crashing noises, I can’t get away from my terrifying images. (One of them is that my kids are in the middle of the ocean, trying to survive a pack of hungry sharks. And I can’t help them because I am already dead from the heart attack I suffered two minutes before the crash.) Continue reading

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Chocolate Pallette with Hazelnuts, Rose Petals and More

IMG_6416 IMG_6348   The inspiration for these rich and flavorful chocolate palettes (rounds) came from a very chi-chi restaurant cookbook called Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook. I’ve never eaten at the restaurant, but I heard from the friend who gave me this book as a present that Eleven Madison Park is one of the most extraordinary, upscale restaurants in NYC. You can tell that the food is exquisite just by looking at the stunning pictures in the book. Next time I’m in New York, I will have to eat there (and take Alex, too; he adores this book even more than I do.) This cookbook is neither typical nor practical. Quite the opposite: the recipes are fancy, exotic and sophisticated. It’s beautiful and inspiring. I actually find it very useful. I have never actually cooked any actual recipe from this book, “by the book,” but I’ve concocted many dishes influenced by the brilliant food combinations, unique flavors, and professional techniques. For me, it’s enough to read the recipe title and scan the picture of the dish to lead me to create my own, simpler version. You could say that simplifying recipes is my specialty. It’s something that I really enjoy about cooking: taking old-fashioned, traditional dishes, then modernizing and simplifying them. Or the opposite: taking a modern, sophisticated dish, and turning it into an easy-to-make, home-cooked dish. That’s exactly what I did with these fancy chocolate palettes.

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Wild Berry Dairy-Free Bread Pudding

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Leo: Mommy, I feel bad saying that my french toast is delicious.

Me: Why?

Leo: Because I don’t want you to feel bad that you can’t eat it.
Me: Thank you, motek (sweetie), but don’t worry, I don’t feel bad at all. I’m extremely happy with my baked french toast. It’s probably better than your french toast.
Daddy: It is.
While my husband made a classic  french toast for the kids and himself, I baked myself a dairy-free french toast, a.k.a. bread pudding. I just discovered that bread pudding doesn’t need milk or cream to be fluffy and delicious and puddingy - just eggs and some liquid. Continue reading

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