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Cherry-Vanilla Almond Granola

It’s the New Year and… wait, we’re already halfway through January… I can’t let anything slip by you, can I?

I had the best of intentions, but my little body had other plans for me. You see, I’ve been busy preparing to go to New Orleans to give a couple of talks motivating physicians and nurses to become more fully engaged in their work to help achieve better outcomes in people with chronic conditions. That sounds like a lot of jargon, doesn’t it? But it’s not. It’s just about opening people’s hearts and minds a little bit more.

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. I think my right knee is the window to my little musculo-skeletal system. I tried to get up last week and nasty pain came screaming out of my knee. Stand on it? No way. Anti-inflammatories, x-rays, an MRI and a cortisone shot later, I’m finally re-surfacing. It’s a little grisly inside that knee, but it’s mine and I love it. If I don’t, who will?  It needs some rest so I’m tooling around in a wheelchair this past week, bumping into Novio a lot. Maybe my knee wanted to give me some R&R before I go. Maybe it couldn’t see walking all around a convention center. Maybe I have an active imagination. We’ll see how it goes.

Meanwhile, I’m finally here to report this:

My Food Blogger LA friends were heading over to our house for a beginning-of-the-year brunch. Since my kitchen is kosher, I planned a healthy vegetarian brunch, no meat and no shellfish. I knew it would be amazing. And it was: Salads with kale, black-eyed peas and more, Pears poached in saffron sauce, Two-Nut Phish Salad (a creative vegan take on tuna salad made with garbanzos, almonds and tuna salad-type add-ins), Baked  French Toast, Galette des Rois (French King’s Cake). Wow. Special thanks to Nancy and our friends at Melissa’s Produce for providing all the terrific winter citrus (check out the bowl filled with Pixie tangerines in the middle of the table).

FBLA BrunchFBLA does Brunch

French Galette

Poached saffron pears

winter fruit saladI put together a Winter Fruit Salad (post to come – one day)… a combination of a cooked compote and a fresh apple/pear salad, in addition to the granola I will eventually get to…

bloggers eatingsome bloggers eatin’

bloggers posingsome bloggers posin’

We always have a theme and this month’s theme was Visions to Reality… turned out to be a relaxed open discussion covering why we began our blogs, what we’re up to now and visions for the future.

My blog has to shimmy over a bit and share the room with my new project, the documentary I am busy with these days . It’s called Life On The Bridge and it’s about overcoming challenges and creating joy. We just developed the website that goes with it and…. well, go check it out here, spend  a little time and you’ll get why it’s going full speed ahead.

Back to the brunch. I wanted to serve homemade granola. Offer fixings to make a parfait… fruit and yogurt topped with super-delicious granola. I looked in my pantry  and spotted an unopened container of dried sour tart cherries, that didn’t get used over the baking adventures of the past month. Cherry-Vanilla. An automatic association. Plus, I like to say it. What’s a natural combo with cherries? Definitely almonds. Voila! A new version of granola! Priscilla has a very similar version on her great blog She’s Cookin. I used the same technique she uses and heated the liquid mixture before folding it in.

oats, coconut and nutsI toast the oats, nuts and coconut a bit first.

coconut and cherriesflavor boosters

liquid flavorsOlive oil, maple syrup,brown sugar, vanilla and salt –

we can’t go wrong with this combo

pre-baked granola

Baked granola

dried cherries on granolaAdd dried fruit after granola is baked

storing granolaStore granola in whatever works for you


adapted from


3 c. rolled oats (old-fashioned oatmeal)

1 c. slivered almonds

1/2 c. pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1 c. unsweetened shredded coconut

1/3 c. canola, olive or grape seed oil (a mixture works too)

1/4 c. maple syrup

3 T. light brown sugar

2 t. vanilla (you can use 1 t. vanilla…  but I like a lot)

3/4 t. salt

3/4 c. dried sour tart cherries, roughly chopped



Preheat oven to 300ºF. Place oats on an unlined rimmed baking sheet.and bake for 8 minutes. Add coconut, slivered almonds and pepitas. Stir and bake for 6 more minutes.

Meanwhile heat up oil, maple syrup, brown sugar over a low flame  and stir to blend. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Place oat-nut-seed mixture in large bowl. Pour warmed liquid mixture over the top. Add salt. Blend well until dry ingredients are thoroughly coated.

Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place granola in a flat layer on the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes until browned.

Do not stir to create chunks as well as loose granola.

Cool in pan. Sprinkle cut-up dried cherries over the top.

Using a spatula, break into pieces. By using this technique (instead of stirring it every 10 minutes) you will end up with some chunks. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up with too many chunks because I ate most of them standing at the counter.

Allow granola to come to room temperature before transferring to storage container(s). You may want to lightly tent with waxed paper or paper towel to discourage passers-by (including yourself) from decreasing the inventory.

Stores well in the refrigerator for a few weeks,

Excellent over yogurt and fresh or cooked fruit. Terrific mixed with  cold cereal, oatmeal or any hot cereal. Of course,it’s great as a snack.


Cherry-Vanilla Almond Granola

Eat in Joy

Protect Your Knees

Macadamia Shortbread Brownie Bites

Sing to the tune of  “Where have all the flowers gone?”

Where have all the people gone? Munching on rich desserts everyone…. Oy vay, the sugar that’s in me… oy vay the su-gar that’s in me…

Forgive me dear Readers, we just returned from a Chanukah party where Novio was quite the bandleader with his group, Jolt City (what a voice that Novio has, what fingers, playing those songs on the keyboard, not to mention the rest of the guys- Phil (guitar), Mike (drums), Eli (bass) and Chazzy (super-cool sax). Why weren’t you on the dance floor with me? Well, next time – the guys were great! And in between, you could find me at the dessert table -so that’s why my brain is a little odd right now – it’s the sugar!

I can’t exactly classify these little babies that are featured here as healthy. But I am not one of those people who eliminates things (like this) completely from my world. I used to, but it got kind of old. I believe in moderation (or at least aiming at it) with an occasional splurge. This is definitely a splurge item but I do keep an eye on portion control. And that’s how I deal.

You generally can’t go wrong with Alice Medrich. This recipe is right out of Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies (how’s that for a title?). If I want to splurge, I proceed quickly to that book. Although Alice, you do have some amazing and healthier treats in there too, like your Fruit-Nut Bars.

So back to portion control. One easy thing to do is make the bars smaller. Also, make the brownie top a little lighter by using less chocolate and butter. A little trim here. A little trim there. Everyone is busy oohing and aahing and no one notices anything.


I’m into butter made from grass-fed cows.

Up with sunshine – hurray for Vitamin D!

Irish butter

Macadamia nuts are more flavorful when you chop them.


shortbread batterBasic shortbread dough

nuts over shortbreadsprinkle nuts over batter and press in

shortbread doughuse your fingertips to ease dough into corners

baked shortbreadbaked dough

Back to the chocolate part of our programming

brownie ingredientshow easy does this look?

brownie layerbrownie layer spread over the top…

… and “over the top, it is”

(insert your best Grouch Marx impression here)

cutting brownie bites

brownie minis

They came with me to the Food Bloggers LA Cookie Swap
Table 2where every cookie was delicious! I also brought the Lemon Rosemary Biscotti (below), set up by the Brownie Bites (for Lemon Rosemary Biscotti recipe, click here)

MS Br Bits-1

Macadamia Shortbread Brownie Bites

slightly adapted Alice Medrich’s

Chewy  Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies


Shortbread Crust

5 T. unsalted butter, melted
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 c. untoasted macadamia nuts, salted or unsalted, medium-finely chopped
Brownie Top
4 oz. dark or bittersweet chocolate
4 oz. unsalted butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt
2 large eggs
1/2 c. unbleached flour


Preheat the oven to 350° and position rack in lower third section.Line a 9″-square baking pan with two layers of aluminum foil with corners tucked in snug and the bottom layer cut a bit longer with the ends hanging over (for easy removal).

To make the crust, combine melted butter with sugar, vanilla and salt in a bowl. Stir in the flour to make a very soft dough.

On a piece of aluminum foil, pat the dough into an even square layer slightly smaller than the bottom of the 9-inch square baking pan you’re using. Sprinkle the dough evenly with the nuts and press them in. Slide the dough on foil on a cookie sheet and place  in freezer while preparing brownie layer.

For the brownie top, using a medium glass bowl, melt together chocolate and butter  in microwave. Take care not to overheat the chocolate. Melt for one minute at full power, and then in increments of 1/2 minute at half-power. Stir at each interval to combine until smooth. It should take about 1 1/2-2 minutes.

With a wooden spoon, stir in sugar, vanilla and salt. Add one egg, stirring until incorporated. Stir in second egg. Sprinkle flour over the batter and lightly mix until all the flour is incorporated and batter is starting to come away from the sides of the bowl.

Remove the dough from the freezer. Invert it, nut side down, into the bottom of the lined pan and remove the top foil. Let the dough soften for a few minutes.  Then press evenly against the bottom of the pan, making sure to reach the edges of the pan and into the corners using the tips of your fingers.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until it is lightly brown all over. Spread the brownie batter evenly over the hot crust and bake for 20 minutes, or until the brownies begin to show fine cracks. Let cool completely in pan on a cooling rack.

Remove brownies from the pan by lifting the ends of the foil and transferring to a cutting board. Cut into 25 squares with a heavy knife.

The brownies can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 weeks.


Macadamia Shortbread Brownie Bites

Happy Holidays!

Lemon Rosemary Biscotti

Can you believe it’s December already? That’s ridiculous … time is amazing and crazy, the way it can rush by or drag on and on. I remember sitting in physics class in high school and staring at the clock across the room, trying to WILL the minute hand of the big clock to move along so I could scoop up my things and get out of that room. The teacher was droning on and on (or I thought he was – what did I know?) and I felt my eyes crossing. When I think of all the hours upon hours I spent doing that I just shake my head. Small wonder I’m the other way now and time moves along at a brisk clip. When I’ve got the mojo, watch out…

This past weekend, off I went to my Food Bloggers LA Annual Cookie Swap. What a group! It was wonderful to see everyone and I missed all those who couldn’t make it. The table looked unbelievable when everyone set up all their offerings. Can you imagine? Bringing several dozen cookies and taking home the same amount?

TAble 3

Novio,  friends and neighbors will all be smiling over the next few days, not to mention me.  🙂 Thank you Judy, Natalie, Valentina, Christina, Kelly, Nancy, Sara, Cathy, Ellen, Andrew to name only a few… and thanks to Erika Kerekes for opening her home to us!


Table 2

I  chose two cookies very different. One dairy-free, no chocolate. The other with dairy (but can made dairy-free), with chocolate. Both slightly tweaked and from VERY reliable sources. What were they?

Oh, yes… Lemon Rosemary Biscotti (simple) and Macadamia Shortbread Brownie Bites (a bit more labor intensive but worth it every now and then). The latter – the little babies in the paper cups next to the biscotti, are set to arrive in the next post… stay tuned…

LR BiscottiLet’s start with the very lovely and classic pairing of lemon and rosemary.

lemon rosemary duet

This cookie is a lighter and smaller version of biscotti and is from Paula Shoyer‘s The Kosher Baker, which I’ve referenced several times here on bb. Paula organizes the book by levels of complexity — moving from fairly quick and elegant to multiple-step desserts. I’m working my way through the simple and elegant section and taking you along with me for my favorites. I’ll let you know if and when I move into the deeper waters.

But for now, I’m working with a straightforward dough.

biscotti doughlemon zest and chopped rosemaryadding the flavorings… lemon zest, juice and finely chopped rosemary

eggs in dough

finishing dough

flat loavesAs biscotti go, these loaves are fairly flat.

just-browned loavesjust-browned loaves

sliced biscottiCutting is easy with a heavy knife.

Lemon Rosemary Biscotti RRosemary for dessert, anyone? Yeah!

Lemon Rosemary  Biscotti

barely tweaked from Paula Shoyer’s, The Kosher Baker


1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour

1 c. + 1/2 t. sugar, divided (1/2 t. is to sprinkle on top later)

1 t. baking powder

2 t. lemon zest (from one lemon)

3 large eggs (or 2 eegs + 1 yolk for batter, 1 white to glaze biscotti)

2 t. pure vanilla extract

1 T.  freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)

1 t. finely chapped fresh rosemary leaves

Note: You can use all regular flour. I like upping the fiber content in baked goods and whole wheat pastry flour is so light, no one ever  notices it. I swap out half the amount of regular flour a lot too.


Preheat  oven to 350°.

Line a jellyroll pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and lemon zest.

Add the 2 eggs plus 1 yolk, vanilla, lemon juice, and rosemary.

Mix with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. You can also use a stand mixer for this.

Divide the dough in half. Form two logs, about 3 x 8 inches each. Place the logs on the pan, leaving space between them

Lightly beat  the reserved egg white and brush the tops of the logs.

Bake for 23-28 minutes, until logs are slightly golden on top. Slide the parchment paper with the loaves onto the counter. Let them rest for 5 minutes.

Cut each log crosswise into half inch thick slices. They will be slightly soft in the center. Place sliced cookies cut side down directly onto the pan and place back in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes until slightly browned. The longer you bake the biscotti, the harder they become. I prefer softer biscotti, so I always bake it for the minimum number of minutes.

Place the biscotti on a cooling rack and let cool.

Makes 30 to 35 biscotti. They last for up to three months in the freezer (if you can keep from visiting them).

Persimmon Crisp

Third and Final Installation in the Persimmon Mini Series (but you never know- there may be a remake).

bowl of Fuyu Persimmons

It’s always my intention to fill up more pots posts than I actually do. But in the last few months, something’s been competing for my attention. The work that’s been on the back burner for a while has finally been moving to the head of the kitchen class. So the burners are full and I will figure out how to keep everything going without burning the kitchen down. Or myself (for those of you who know me, you know I kid you not).

I’m at work on a documentary, called Life On The Bridge! And, I just launched a website by the same name. The whole project is about overcoming obstacles and  choosing to live life fully. And that means creating and experiencing those moments of joy  that are all around. To read more, click here to go to the ABOUT Page and scroll down to read the November 2014 entry.


Fuyus and HachiyasHachiya (left) and Fuyu (right)

Back to our persimmons. There are two types that are available in my market. Fuyu persimmons are tomato-shaped and are hard with a delicately sweet flavor. You eat them just like an apple. Bite in and enjoy. Or slice it up horizontally to see the lovely star-shaped pattern inside. I use them in salads and hot cereal too.

Hachiya persimmons are acorn-shaped and need to be extremely soft when eaten. Hachiyas are highly astringent in nature. That’s why you have to give them ample time to get soft and lose most of that astringency. If you buy them firm, they can take almost 2 weeks to ripen. The best way to eat a Hachiya is to cut it in half around the middle and scoop it out with a spoon. It’s very sweet and custard-y in texture. My local grower, Cecile, tells me she freezes them when ripe and slices them up to eat. She says it’s like eating the best sherbet.

With all this information on persimmons, I held a little persimmon workshop.

young student of persimmons
                              A very interested young student of persimmons.

[Yes, the troops  were in from Columbus for the week of Thanksgiving, and in the words of one of the home team fans, “it was grand to have them here.”]

For more pics of little BabyBee, please scroll to the end of the post.


Back to the Persimmon Patter, Novio and I were headed to friends, Frank & Merle, for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner and I wanted to make something seasonal and special for them. I love apple crisps, who doesn’t? So I decided to go for a persimmon crisp, bursting with the color and flavor of autumn.

persimmon chunksI piled up chunks of persimmons in a deep-dish pan, tossed with a bit of lemon juice, sugar and a bit of arrowroot for a little thickening action (cornstarch is okay too). This would easily work in a 2-quart baking dish.

With a little help from my pals Ina and Deb…Not really my pals… more like pretend pals, this is what I came up with. I did a riff off the Barefoot Contessa’s Apple Crisp and I incorporated some ideas from Smitten Kitchen’s Breakfast Apple Granola Crisp  (click on highlighted names to link to original recipe) . That meant I made it less sweet and added  extras to the topping like almonds and unsweetened coconut.

I started out with butter… really good butter. I’m not messing around. This  Irish butter is made from grass-fed cows and the flavor doesn’t compare. (BUT if you go for regular butter or even swap out the butter for canola oil to make it dairy-free, it will all work.)

kerrrygold butter

unsweetened coconut sliced almondsThe combination of unsweetened coconut, almonds and a little cinnamon gives the topping a granola-like flavor and crunch.

topping mixI took the crisp to my friends’ house with the topping mix in a separate bowl. I put it on right before it went into the oven. It baked while we were eating dinner.

crisp to ovenAn interested  party oversees the work.

After about 50 minutes, it was browned and firm on top.

browned crispAnd very well-received.

half-eaten crisp

 portion of persimmon crisp
A serving of crisp, delicious at room temperature or warm.

Great alone or paired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, coconut milk ice cream (vanilla or coconut) or a dollop of yogurt.

Persimmon Crisp

Inspired by online apple crisp recipes from Barefoot Contessa and Smitten Kitchen


3 lbs Fuyu persimmons (7-8, depending on their size) peeled,  small chunks
2 T. lemon juice
2 T.  sugar
1/2 t. arrowroot (or 1 t. cornstarch)
1/2 t. cinnamon
pinch of salt
6 T. (or 3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 c. light brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 c. oats
1/4 c. sliced almonds
1/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut


Preheat oven to 400°F.

Mix persimmon chunks with lemon juice, sugar, arrowroot (or cornstarch), cinnamon and pinch of salt in a deep-dish pie pan or 2-quart baking dish until fruit is evenly coated.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, oats, almonds, coconut and another pinch of salt. Add diced cold butter and combine with fork or with your fingers until clumps form. (NOTE: If using oil for a dairy-free or lower fat version, simply stir all topping ingredients together until combined and spread over the fruit when ready to bake.)

Sprinkle evenly over the persimmon mixture and bake in the oven for about 45 to 55 minutes, or until the fruit is softened and crisp is browned and firm on top.

Let rest 10-15 minutes and serve warm. Also great at room temperature.

Serve with a large spoon. Makes 8-10 servings..

Terrific as a dessert with or without a scoop of vanilla ice cream or coconut milk ice cream (vanilla or coconut) or for breakfast with a dollop of yogurt.

coffee with crispcoffee and crisp

So where is that little student of persimmons?

Baby B 2There he is!

Baby B 3

Baby B 4

KB and BBKB with Baby B…
…and a persimmon.

Persimmon Avocado Salad

Am cleaning up my office and  feeling lighter. I take a half hour and say to myself, ” I WILL clean one pile BEFORE I do anything else today- a few times the half hour turns into three hours and once or twice the half hour is actually a half hour.

I know I can’t keep this up for too long so when I’m motivated to sort, toss and file, I jump on it. And  I find I’m breathing a bit easier. Coincidence? Correlation Causation? Too many “C” words? I don’t know. I’m just reporting the facts.

Remember the old People Mover in Tomorrowland? I don’t even think Disneyland has a Tomorrowland anymore. It’s OK, I know I’m dating myself. I don’t mind. This is how I feel: Things that have been in me to do for a very long time are coming into focus and moving forward. Just maybe in time for Thanksgiving. Just may be. Small wonder I’ve been out of the bb kitchen so much. I will tell you more soon.

And in the spirit of less is more, I offer up another installation of the Persimmon Mini Series. As soon as I received a big bag of persimmons and before I could get to the porridge (click here for the recipe) I threw together a few favorite ingredients for a salad. Home Run!, according to Novio. Less is More.

I used two small persimmons the first night, with an avocado that was ready to go.

persimmons and avocado

I threw the chunks of persimmon and avocado into a simple salad…

chunks of persimmon and avocado

… with chopped Romaine lettuce,  baby lettuce, green onion and Persian cucumber, all frequent guests in the kitchen.

salad staples

Then I dressed it lightly with olive oil and a bit of Orange Muscat Vinegar (love the stuff— it’s from Trader Joe’s).

orange Muscat vinegar

If you  don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you (yikes!) or don’t know what I’m talking about (double yikes!!), no worries. Use the same amount of oil PLUS…. either (you have lots of choices) –

  • 2 t. lemon juice and a small amount of honey (about 1/2 t.)
  • 1 t. orange juice and 1 t. light vinegar
  • 1 t. orange juice plus 1 t. champagne vinegar or white balsamic or something acidic that appeals to you

I didn’t even take the time to make the dressing in a jar or little bowl. A little oil splashed on.  A little vinegar. A little salt & pepper.

There’s a lot to be said for Simplicity. Thanks again, Beverly.

persimmons in salad

Persimmon Avocado Salad


4 c. mixed lettuce
2 small persimmons, small chunks, peel on
1 Persian cucumber, sliced
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 small avocado, large dice
2 t. lemon juice (or juice of 1/2 small lemon)
1 T. good quality olive oil
2 t. orange muscat vinegar
salt & pepper to taste


Rinse, drain and shred Romaine. Combine with other lettuces, if using, in a medium salad bowl. Add sliced green onion and cucumber.

Cut persimmons in chunks and add to salad.

Dice an avocado, add to salad and pour lemon juice over it.

Add olive oil, vinegar, salt & pepper and lightly toss.

Two people now have a delicious and quick salad to enjoy!


Persimmon Avocado Salad


Persimmon Porridge

Ahhh, my Tuesday Night Hebrew class. I started taking it again a few years ago and now it’s a non-negotiable fixture on my calendar.

Case in point: Novio and I have been trying to figure out a date to take our nephew out to dinner for his birthday. This Thursday, next Thursday, this Sunday  – all no good. Nephew texted me back: What about Tuesday night? I’m free Tuesday. Sorry Daniel, Tuesday night is Hebrew  night. As I said, nonnegotiable.

This class has some wonderful advantages, not the least of which is our outstanding Hebrew teacher, Era. We discuss, we share, we laugh. Under Era’s gentle leadership, the conversation  covers Israeli culture, literature, history and music. We share stories, from travel to memories and anecdotes of family and  friends. And sometimes we open up our grammar books.

The class itself is an eclectic group – all coming together for our love of the language and the country. One of my classmates is a kind and generous soul whose mom’s backyard has persimmon trees that deliver in abundance every fall.  So each year about this time, Beverly brings bags and bags of persimmons to class, asking us who would like some. Sometimes pleading with us to help her share in the bounty. I don’t know how she lugs those heavy bags around.

Fuyu persimmons

Two weeks ago I couldn’t make class. A few days later, Novio and I return home and what do we find waiting for us on our doorstep? Yup.  A bag filled with persimmons. I knew immediately who the culprit was. I didn’t even have to read the lovely note attached.

Bag of Persimmons

This porridge is made with Fuyu persimmons. Novio keeps teasing me about the name. He wants to know why I’m speaking like that. “They’re called Fuyus,” I say. Please cut the tittering,okay? A Fuyu persimmon is firm and you generally eat it like an apple.  It has a subtle and delicious sweetness to it.

I’ve been thinking of different ways to enjoy them. Delicious out of hand, Yes. But throughout the day, all kinds of uses for persimmons come to mind.

Breakfast: diced into yogurt or in cereal, whether hot or cold.

Lunch/Dinner: in a refreshing salad with greens, avocado and scallion (green onion), as a salsa to top  fish or chicken, diced and baked with chicken, with quinoa, stewed with yams.

Dessert: roasted chunks or slices served with ice cream… or persimmon crisp.

I feel a Persimmon Mini Series coming on.

diced persimmons

All this pondering made me think about a wonderful steaming bowl of cereal in the morning.For the first batch, I used old-fashioned rolled oats.

rolled oats

I thought maybe a smoother texture would work. I did a quick turn with the oats in my mini-food processor to get a cream-of-wheat consistency. It was delicious but would be fine without that extra step too.

mini- processor for oatsmy friend, the mini-processor

For the next batch, I used Scottish oatmeal. This batch used a higher liquid to oats ratio. Be sure to read the cooking directions for the correct oats:liquid ratio. The ratio can be 1:1.5, 1:2 or as much as 1:3 or 1:4 (for steel-cut).

Scottish oatsvery satisfying

I tried making this batch with an unpeeled persimmon cut into a large dice but I found that when I peeled them….. I know the nutrients are mostly under the skin but here’s the deal,  when I peeled them, they became very tender and flavorful in the brief time I cooked them in the porridge liquid. The cooking liquid I used was half unsweetened almond milk and half water.

grinding the oatmeal

Then I simply added the oatmeal (or try whatever hot cereal you like). I included a  very small amount of brown sugar, a pinch of salt and a bit of vanilla.

brown sugar and vanilla

That’s it. Fantastic! Quick and a great way to start the day.

Experiment using different hot cereals.

This post is dedicated to Beverly, her mom… and the wonderful persimmon trees.

pleasing persimmons in porridge

Persimmon Porridge


1 c. oatmeal  (AKA rolled oats)
cooking liquid for oatmeal- I use half unsweetened almond milk and half water
(I needed 3 c. liquid for the type of oatmeal I was using)
2 persimmons, peeled and diced
2 t. light brown sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt


Use the ratio of cooking liquid to oatmeal for 4 servings according to package directions. Pay attention to the oatmeal-cooking liquid ratio as it varies according to the type of oatmeal and brand you use).

In a medium saucepan, bring cooking liquid and salt up to a gentle simmer. Add the diced persimmon to the cooking liquid (to soften it a bit). Return to a very gentle simmer. Bring heat down to low (otherwise you’ll spend unnecessary time wiping the stove top) and add oatmeal and brown sugar. Stir and cook gently (you want to see gentle bubbling on the surface) for the number of minutes indicated on the oatmeal package. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Cover and let rest for a minute or two.

Makes 4 servings. Add a bit more almond milk to the oatmeal before serving… Enjoy!

Persimmon Porridge

Cool No-Bake Granola Bars

These granola bars are really cool. Why? Because we keep them chilled in the refrigerator , ha ha! No, no, they’re also just a really cool pick-me-up. Full of whole grains, nuts and dried fruit and held together with a very fun mix of things, including almond or peanut butter. And anything that looks like it’s been baked and isn’t is a cool thing.


whole grainstoast grains

toasting nutsadd nuts

dried fruit mix

dried fruit mix

My buddy Hanni, of Spots on Pots fame, recommended David Lebovitz’s version (click here for his version) when I made a batch of granola cookies. Her husband, AKA The Better Half, reported that they were too crumbly and liked David’s version better. I put that bit of info away in the back pocket of my brain until the right time. The right time happened along but his version calls for a cup of chopped and pitted dates  and I don’t always feel like chopping sticky dates. Also I want to eat them not chop them…

You basically toast the grains and the nuts and mix them up in a large bowl with the dried fruit. Then assemble the other ingredients, in this case, the almond butter, honey, brown rice syrup and applesauce and heat together in a small saucepan.


add wet mix to bowlincorporate into grains/nuts/fruit mixture

press mix into pan

cut  straight from the  pancut the granola bars straight from the pan…

… and when there are just a few left, toss them in a plastic container and keep them in the fridge. And keep they will, if you tuck them toward the back.

granola bars

Not good for a hike but excellent when you need a little something satisfying at home or as an after- school snack. Or take it to work if you have a fridge there. But be careful; they might walk off on you.

No-Bake Granola Bars

Cool No-Bake Granola Bars


1 1/2 c.rolled oats (old-fashioned NOT quick-cooking)
1/4 c.sesame seeds
1/4 c. whole millet
1/4 c. whole flax seeds
1/2 c. whole almonds, cut in half or sliced almonds
1/2 c. walnuts
1/3 c. applesauce
1/4 c. almond butter (OR creamy peanut butter)
2 T. honey
2 T. brown rice syrup
1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 c. dried fruit: a mix of raisins, currants or apricots or sour cherries, coarsely chopped


Line the bottom of an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350°.

Spread oats, sesame seeds and flax seeds on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, stirring once while they are baking, until slightly browned. Scrape them into a large bowl. Spread the almonds and walnuts on baking sheet and toast for eight minutes. Let cool then coarsely chop walnuts and almonds (if whole) and add to the outs in a large bowl. Add dried fruit to the bowl.

Heat almond butter, honey, rice syrup and applesauce in a small sauce pan, stirring until warm but not boiling. Pour the liquid mixture over the solid items in the bowl and stir until it’s completely incorporated. You can use your hands to finish the activity or use a large wooden spoon. Transfer the mixture to the baking pan and pack it in, so it’s as flat as possible. Freeze the granola bars in the pan for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the freezer and run a knife around the edge to release the bars… keep the mixture out to remove the parchment paper and cut into rectangles. Another possibility is place the pan in the refrigerator and cut the bars directly from the pan as you need them.

No-Bake Granola Bars-PInt

bb ideas for more No-Bake Granola Bars:

Mash 1/2 c, blueberry puree and add 1/2 t. vanilla -delete the applesauce

Delete the honey and rice syrup and use 1/4 c. of maple syrup instead. Use half the nuts and add I/2 c. pepitas instead.

Melting Pot Meatballs

Spaghetti & meatballs has always been high on my lust of comfort foods. It’s one of the many dishes I would watch my mom make for us growing up. It wasn’t a natural in her repertoire. Influenced by her Italian next-door-neighbor? Maybe. But more likely, she was responding to the clamoring of her little Yankee (yours truly).

Years ago I began adding diced zucchini to the sauce for my own version of meatballs and spaghetti. It added richness plus rounded the dish out with the added veggie.

The French begin so many savory dishes with a mirepoix. This simply means sauteing chopped onion, carrots and celery for the base of all manner of soups, stews and sauces. Why not? I’ll do it too.

a mirepoix

a mirepoix

From there, the idea just evolved. What vegetables do I want in this batch? That’s the way we operate in the bb kitchen. Variety is the spice of life, so they say. Did I hear someone say, “Who’s they?” You know, they.

veggies on hand

Then I met a physical therapist from Mexico City. While she was pulling my legs and stretching me, we discussed (one guess… ) cooking. She told me that she learned from her mom to always stick a cinnamon stick into whatever she was cooking that had tomato sauce. It adds a layer of complexity and depth to the sauce that once you taste, you won’t ever want to make any other way. Hmmm, must remember I thought. And remember I did. And if you don’t have a cinnamon stick, add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon along with the cumin in the beginning.


For the binding agent, use fresh bread crumbs.

fresh bread crumbs

fresh bread crumbs

Or grab some leftover Challah or egg bread, tear into chunks, place in a small bowl and pour hot water over it. Let it soak for ten minutes.

soaked Challah

soaked Challah

Then squeeze it dry and using your fingers, pull it apart over the meat mixture.

softened bread in meat mixture

softened bread in meat mixture

Throw some chopped parsley in, if you like. Mix it up well to incorporate. Hands work best for this activity.

meatball mix

For the ground meat, I long ago realized that ground turkey can be swapped out for beef to bring the fat content down. But you can also try ground chicken. It works especially well with the soaked bread version.

Make smallish meatballs and quickly brown them for a few minutes on each side in hot oil.


browned meatballs

From Morocco, the cumin

From Mexico, the cinnamon

From France, the mirepoix, the classic base of onion, celery and carrot

From the Mediterranean, the classic vegetables and herbsmeatballs in dauce

A dish with melt-in-your-mouth savory flavors in every bite. For dinner at home, in the Sukkah, or to take to someone else’s home… Go ahead, pull out what you have in your veggie bin and feed your friends and family one memorable meal.

meatballs and veggies

Melting Pot Meatballs


1 lb. ground turkey (ground  chicken or beef can also be used)
1 egg
4 T. fresh bread crumbs or about 1/2 c. torn pieces of Challah or egg bread
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 T. chopped Italian parsley
4 T. olive oil
1 t. cumin
1/2  t. oregano
1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 stalk celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
2 zucchini, cut lengthwise and sliced
1/2 lb. mushrooms, quartered, optional
1 small eggplant, cubed, optional
28 oz. tomatoes, crushed or whole and cut-up
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 c. red wine
2 T. tomato paste
salt & pepper


Make the meatball mixture by combining the ground meat, 1/4 of the chopped onion, 1 minced garlic clove, Italian parsley and salt and pepper. Add fresh bead crumbs. Or take about 1/2 cup or 2 slices of Challah or egg bread, pour hot water over it in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Squeeze the water out and pull it apart over the meat mixture. Stir well to combine.

Heat a large deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add 2 T. olive oil to heat through. Form the ground meat mixture into small meatballs (about 18-20) and briefly brown on both sides. Remove to platter and set aside.

Scrape all the bits to the sides of the skillet or pot and add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add the cumin, oregano, and ground cinnamon (if not using a cinnamon stick) and quickly cook for a half-minute. Add the remaining chopped onion, celery and carrots and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add the remaining 3 cloves of chopped garlic and cook for another minute. Add the remaining vegetables, depending on what you’re using – diced peppers, diced zucchini, quartered mushrooms, diced eggplant. Saute for 10 minutes.

Return the meatballs to the pot, arranging them over the vegetables. Pour the large can of tomatoes over, along with the sauce,  wine and tomato paste. Add cinnamon stick if using. Bring up to a boil and then down to a gentle simmer. Cook, with lid askew, for 30-40 minutes, until all the veggies are tender.

Make this dish a day or two ahead of time.It only gets gets better with re-heating. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Serve over rice, Israeli couscous, or of course, your favorite pasta, including spaghetti!

meatballs and spaghetti

Serves 8

Melting Pot Meatballs

Easy Stone Fruit Cobbler

Dairy or Dairy-Free Version, here’s a sure-to-please peach cobbler for the late-season peaches that are rolling in right now. I got a request from ever-practical Lulu who informed me that there were a few-too-many peaches sitting on her counter. She needs to do something before they turn from the luscious phase to the I’m-not-liking-the-way-this-is-tasting phase.


I was given the followed list of pre-requisites:

  • No pastry making (Lulu, who are you talking to? I rarely  go down that road)
  • No multiple steps
  • No  buscuit-y shortcakes
  • Dairy-Free
  • Cake-y texture

The request was so earnest, I had to respond immediately. I wanted to do this:

cut-up peaches

But all I had was this:

stone fruitA stone-fruit trio: peach, white nectarine & pluot

Yes, a pluot. That’s the little green guy hiding in the back. A pluot is generally a mix between a plum  and an apricot. There are many varieties in shades ranging from burgundy to pale red to green. And sometimes peaches or cherries are added to the crossing-over and mixing-up. Very scientific of me, I know.

My trio gave me just the 2 cups I needed. You don’t need a lot of fruit, two or three and you’re there. I figured I’d taste the fruit to determine how much sugar to add. Cut the stone fruit into slices, then cut in half. No need to peel the fruit. Keep nutrients in and get the pan in the oven that much quicker.

two cups cut-up fruit

And on to the recipe. Here’s what I came up with…. I’ve seen recipes where butter is melted in the baking pan and the batter is poured into the pan over it. It results in a well-defined bottom and sides. To create a dairy-free recipe, I swapped the butter for canola oil and the milk for unsweetened almond milk.

simple almond milk batter

Pour the milk into the dry ingredients for a liquid-y batter. No eggs need apply.

liquidy batter and fruit The fruit is added and into the oven it goes.

baked cobblerIt’s ready when it’s bubbly around the edge and the juices are set.

Stone Fruit Cobbler“Whatever Lulu wants, Lulu gets.”

and the rest of too!

Easy Stone Fruit Cobbler


3 T.  butter or canola oil
3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. +1 T. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 c. low-fat milk or unsweetened almond milk
2 c.  cut-up unpeeled stone fruit (peaches, plums, nectarines, pluots, or a combo)

NOTE: you can also use:

  • peaches alone, which was my original intent
  • apples
  • berries


Melt butter in a round 8 to 9 inch pan in a 350° oven- don’t brown the butter. Or, if using oil, simply pre-heat oven and swirl oil around in pan.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt (minus the 1 tablespoon of sugar) in bowl. Whisk in milk. Pour batter into pan without stirring.

Cut unpeeled peaches into slices and cut slices in half. Add fruit and top with remaining tablespoon sugar. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until bubbly and the top is set.

Let rest for 10 minutes. Enjoy with vanilla ice cream or yogurt.

For dairy free, use coconut milk ice cream or yogurt as a topping.

Note: It’s low enough in sugar, that you can top it with plain yogurt, have it  for breakfast and go take on your day!

Makes 6-8 servings.


Easy Stone Fruit Cobbler


Chocolate Chip Mandelbread

Here we are, dear readers. On the cusp of the Jewish New Year. And life happens. And the curve balls come our way and we still keep putting one foot in front of the other. For me, I keep coming back to the notion of Choosing Life. For all its crazy messiness that it can be. And recognizing the incredible gifts within it.

We may have wanted to make this year the break-out year for introducing all these new versions of beloved dishes when our families gather. But it’s tradition that so many seek this time of year. In the chaotic world that swirls around us , a bit of familiarity is a very good thing.

So to the beloved old faithful recipes we head — the dishes that our family and friends know to look for year after year. Dishes like Lulu’s Apple n’ Honey Cake.

And I can’t think of a better way to Choose Life than to reach for a bag of chocolate chips.

mandelbread batter

If you look very closely, you may notice a few little white bits in there. Turns out I ran out of chocolate chips for this particular batch and had to delve into my white chocolate chip stash. OK, so this batch is not exactly dairy-free. More mandelbread to pack away in the freezer. Novio was very happy to hear of this turn-of-events.

It’s a simple recipe that yields delicious results every time. The only thing you need apart from the usual baking supplies are a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and a couple of juice oranges. If you already have oj in the fridge, use it. We won’t tell – your secret is safe with us.

chocolate chips and oj

Grease your hands lightly to create two long flat loaves from the soft dough.

two logs

Use a sharp knife to cut even slices after the first round of baking.

making mandelbread slices

You don’t need to make any room in between the slices for the second, brief baking.

second baking of mandelbreadThe mandelbread need some time to cool before storing. Caution, if you’re not alone while in this cooling phase. Mandelbread slices have a funny way of getting up and leaving when you’re not looking. Don’t bother trying to find them.

cooling on rack

This recipe from the Kosher Baker is the very first recipe in Paula Shoyer’s terrific volume. A more accurate title for the book could be The Parve Baker. All of her desserts are dairy-free and that is consistent with the kosher law of not serving milk or milk products in the same meal with meat.

Quick, straightforward and delicious. And if all this means you and I have a bit more time to spend with family and friends, and maybe even some room for a little introspection, so much the better.

Chocolate Chip MandelBreadWishing everyone strength, love and peace in the year ahead…

Chocolate Chip Mandelbread

from Paula Shoyer’s The Kosher Baker — I only reduced the sugar and upped the vanilla


3 cups flour
¾ c. sugar
2 t. baking powder
¼ t. salt
1/4 c. orange juice (freshly squeezed is preferable)
3 large eggs
1/2 c. canola or safflower oil
2 t. pure vanilla extract
10 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips (dairy-free)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large rimmed or jellyroll pan with parchment paper.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, orange juice, eggs, oil, and vanilla in a large bowl until it forms a soft dough. Add chocolate chips and evenly distribute.

Divide dough in half and shape each loaf into a log. It helps to do this with lightly greased hands. Shape loaves to about 12 inches long and 3 inches wide. Flatten each love slightly with the palm of your hand. Leave a space of about 3 inches between the loaves.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the logs are golden on top. Quickly slide parchment paper and logs off the pan onto the counter. You want to avoid having the bottoms of the logs “sweat” as that will overly soften them. Slice each loaf crosswise into ¾ to 1-inch slices (a size that’s pleasing to you).

Place new piece of parchment on the pan and lay the sliced mandelbread on the parchment, cut-side down. There do not need to be spaces between the slices. Return pan to the oven and bake for 5 minutes more. Remove slices onto a cooling rack until cooled.

Place in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 5 days. They keep very well in plastic containers or ziploc bags in the freezer for up to 3 months. Do not divulge their whereabouts to anyone.

Makes about 30 pieces.

Choc Chip MBread