Dairy free Magic Cookie Bars

I was making Magic Cookie Bars, otherwise known as 7 Layer Cookies, or Hello Dollies for a friend’s daughter’s party yesterday, when my daughter looked at me and asked if she could have one.

Magic Cookie Bars begin with melting a stick of butter in a 13 x 9 inch pan, adding 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs, pouring a can of sweetened condensed milk, and ending with sprinkling a cup of chocolate chips, a half cup of nuts, and some shredded coconut – before baking at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

My daughter – whose tummy has had a whirlwind of issues – was finally diagnosed with lactose intolerance last winter. Butter seems to be okay for my girl, but cow’s milk is definitely out for her.

As this uses coconut milk, it is not low in fat, but it is a delicious alternative. ­čÖé


Welcome to Dairy Free Magic Cookie Bars:

~6 Tablespoons of Earth Balance vegan shortening

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (if you want Gluten Free, simply use Gluten Free cookie crumbs)

13.5 oz can Coconut Milk* + 1/2-1 teaspoon of powdered Turbinado sugar (or its equivalent)

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup walnut pieces

1/2 cup shredded organic unsweetened coconut


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees, or 325 if using glass pan.

2) In 13 x 9 inch pan, melt vegan shortening stick.

3) Pour graham cracker crumbs evenly over melted vegan shortening until bottom of pan covered evenly and completely.

4) Open and pour can of coconut milk into separate bowl first to stir until smooth. Add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of powdered Turbinado sugar (or its equivalent) to coconut milk and stir until combined.

5) Pour coconut milk over graham cracker crumbs and spread to make even layer.

6) Sprinkle chips, nuts, and coconut over top.

7) Bake 350, or 325 if you have a glass pan, for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges look bubbly and the shredded coconut looks a little toasted.

8) Let cool down on counter. Then refrigerate for several hours, or overnight for bars to harden deliciously. Cut into bars, and enjoy!


Potato Salad & Turkey Burgers

My dad always made potato salad whenever we would have a cookout. My mom grilled the hamburgers (she made the best beef burgers ever) and hot dogs.

I don’t make beef burgers. I make turkey ones. (Although, several people have admitted that I do make the best turkey burgers.)

Turkey Burgers:

1 lb ground turkey
garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt, white pepper – to taste
olive oil – equivalent to a large egg
several pieces or cubes of favorite cheese

1) Mix ground turkey with spices and olive oil.
2) Wrap meat around cheese so that cheese is in center
3) Cook thoroughly leaving no raw meat*

* Undercooked meat is hazardous to your health


Potato Salad

10-12 organic medium-sized potatoes, baked with skin on, diced & cooled
mayonnaise to taste
garlic salt, garlic powder, paprika, white pepper – to taste
1 small sweet onion, diced

1) Mix all ingredients together. Serve and enjoy.

Chocolate Pudding Pie (Chocolate Cream Pie)

When I was in high school and I used to make Chocolate Cream Pie, it was with (shudder) Cool Whip, instant chocolate pudding, and candy bars. That is how I think of Chocolate Cream Pie. With that in mind, I think of this as Chocolate Pudding Pie, which in essence, is what it is.

You can argue that chocolate is an antioxidant, thereby this is healthy. I prefer to think of it just as yummy! ­čÖé

Chocolate Pudding Pie (Chocolate Cream Pie)

6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
2 Tablespoons light olive oil
2/3 cup turbinado sugar
1/3 cup wheat flour
1 1/2 cups brown rice milk (or other milk)
1/2 cup cream (or additional milk)
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons butter
9″ baked pie shell

  1. In a cold pot, mix cocoa and oil until smooth.
  2. Add sugar, flour, milk, and cream to pot and cook on medium heat until just bubbling.
  3. In separate bowl, beat egg yolks.
  4. Slowly whisk a half of a cup of warm milk mixture into egg yolks to warm up eggs.
  5. Whisk an additional cup of warm milk mixture before adding all the contents of the bowl back into the pot on the stove.
  6. Cook on the stove on medium low heat for an additional few minutes, stirring to prevent pudding from sticking to bottom of pot.
  7. Remove pudding from heat. Add butter and vanilla, stirring until butter melted.
  8. Pour into baked pie shell and refrigerate for 2-3 hours until set. Serve with fresh whipped cream. Enjoy!



This is a rather adaptable dessert. Twenty years ago, my then-roommate, dubbed these porcupines. They consist of chocolate chips and anything else you happen to throw in. They have the ability to be gluten-free, nut-free, and dairy-free, if you wish.


1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup crushed potato chips (gluten-free)
1/4 cup dried fruit, such as raisins

you may also add, if you can eat nuts or gluten:
1/2 cup peanut butter or any nut butter
1/4 cup coconut
instead of the potato chips, you can add 1/2 cup of any kind of cereal you like
you can also substitute the semisweet chips with any other kind of chips you like

1) In microwave safe bowl, add chocolate chips. Cook on high for 1 minute. Stir until smooth.
2) Add in potato chips or cereal, dried fruit or coconut, or any other mix-in you like. Stir.
3) Drop by teaspoon onto wax paper. Chill in refrigerator for 10 minutes or until hardened.
4) Serve. You can store any leftovers in storage container on counter for a few days, if they last that long, or in refrigerator if you want them colder.

Crock Pot Stroganoff

This is not kosher style at all, nor is it health conscious, nor is it gluten free. This is a quick and easy meal for the weekday when you have little time, and it’s cold outside. My kids loved it and it’s very filling.The beef comes out to be like brisket. I have only made this once, so I will most likely tweak the recipe in the upcoming weeks, as I would like to replace the beef with turkey. I would say it serves 4-5 people, but it depends upon appetites.


Crock Pot Stroganoff

2 lbs beef, sliced in thin strips, as if for stir fry (I used eye of round)
1-2 sweet onions, diced or pureed
1 zucchini, pureed
3 garlic cloves
2 cups beef broth (no msg, no caramel coloring)
flour (I used whole wheat/white enriched mix)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup couscous (I used whole wheat)
10 oz frozen broccoli
12 oz all natural sour cream or greek yogurt

1) Dredge beef strips in flour (seasoned with salt and pepper)
2) Place beef in crock pot on low. Add remaining ingredients, except for couscous, broccoli, and sour cream. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
3) About 10 minutes before serving meal, add broccoli and take 1 1/2 cups warm beef broth from the crock pot and bring to boil in pot (or, put in microwave safe quart-sized bowl for 3-3 1/2 minutes on high and cover bowl to avoid splattering).
4) Add sour cream to crock pot.
5) In pot, or bowl, add couscous and season to taste. Cover pot or bowl for 5 minutes.
6) Turn off crock pot. Serve crock pot stroganoff over couscous.

Post Thanksgiving 2013 – Good Turkey Recipe

Mom was with me all day yesterday. I could hear her in my head, asking why I was stuffing the turkey with apples, onions, carrots, and garlic instead of stuffing. She was with me all week when I was cooking, telling me she didn’t realize all the work I put into baking all the pies for Thanksgiving. (The apple pie cheesecake won again as having the least amount left, with the apple crumb coming in second, the sweet potato & the pumpkin tying for third, and the chocolate pecan coming in last.)

As I put the turkey in my one and only roasting pan, I realized that either the turkey had to shrink, or the roasting pan had to get bigger – so I went to the store, and saw lots of other people doing the same thing as me.

The turkey did come out beautifully. If you want a good turkey recipe:

1 pint water in the roasting pan for smaller birds, 1 quart water for larger birds, cover the turkey with foil, and remove 30 minutes before turkey finishes cooking to allow for browning.
450 F for the first hour
350 F – 10 minutes for every pound of turkey, plus 30 minutes if you stuff the bird
baste the turkey every 25-30 minutes while in the oven, and every 5 minutes out of the oven while carving before it gets to the table

I stuffed it with 1 yellow onion cut in quarters, 1 Fuji apple cut in quarters, 3-4 garlic cloves, and 2-3 carrots peeled & broken in half.

I coated the bird on top and under the skin where I could reach with:
1 stick of melted unsalted butter mixed with several tablespoons olive oil, garlic salt, onion powder, paprika, white pepper, and a bit of sea salt.

Thanksgiving was always a Mom holiday. Having my aunt there really helped. (She brought the Chanukah latkes.) It’s been lovely to see more of her in the last few months. My brother’s fiance and her daughter split some of the cooking with me, which made it very doable, and quite yummy. We had a good group for Thanksgiving. We are so very blessed.

And, I have a fun bit – I got to use my china and my crystal, and more of the extra bits of pretty stuff we have been given, or accidentally collected over the years. I like pretty things to be useful, or I tend to feel it’s a waste having them just to take up space.

My pottery instructor told the class last year that we could make two kinds of objects – lovely & decorative (she said think museum) or useful (think walmart) – she confessed she tended to make useful items – (although I have seen more of her work, and I would say she does both types of items beautifully). Mom and I made useful items that were pretty – things we could actually use, like platters.

Our memories, our experiences help to shape us to become who and what we are. We build on them like blocks to mold our thinking, to select our paths, to bring us to today, to lead us to tomorrow.

May G-d be with you, now and always.


Pumpkin Cran-Orange Bread

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Chanukah! Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Thanksgivikah!

This is the first time Chanukah and Thanksgiving have occurred together in my lifetime, and it will be the last. We have harvest colored candles for the first couple nights of Chanukah.

I was making my husband’s mother’s Thanksgiving recipes she received from some store several decades ago, when I was chatting with a neighbor and, well, the Pumpkin Bread recipe is on one side of my paper, and the Cranberry-Orange Bread recipe is on the other side. The paper flipped over sometime after I put the first 2 ingredients into my mixing bowl. The next several ingredients were from the other recipe, so now we have a new tradition –

Pumpkin Cranberry Orange Bread:

2 cups cranberries, pureed with a small splash of apple cider (or juice)
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup turbinado sugar
1 1/3 – 1 1/2 cups organic sugar
1 cup oil (light olive oil, sunflower oil, or canola oil)
3 eggs
1 Tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups pumpkin (15 oz can of pumpkin)
3 cups flour

1) Preheat oven to 350 F.

2) Mix pureed cranberries, orange juice, sugars, oil, and eggs together well.

3) Add spices, salt, baking soda, pumpkin and mix well. Add flour.

4) Makes two full loaves. (If you like, it will also make 24 mini-muffins.)

5) Bake the  mini-muffins for 12 minutes on 350 F, bake the loaves for 40-60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cake Baking Tips

This isn’t exactly a recipe, just a few baking tips from someone who has finally figured out how to bake a two layer cake and get it out of the pan without leaving half of it behind. Plus, an excellent way of keeping the cake moist after the first day.

First of all, when you go to bake your cake, do one of these two things:

1) Butter and flour (or cocoa powder if you’re making a chocolate cake) your cake pans by using actual butter and coating each cake pan. You can do this by rubbing the butter into the cake pan on the bottom and sides. Then you sprinkle flour into each cake pan and shake it around until the cake pan is coated on the bottom and the sides. before shaking the excess flour into the sink or trash can.


2) Line your cake pans with parchment rounds you can purchase at your local grocery or baking store, then spray the sides and bottom with an oil spray before you sprinkle  flour into each cake pan and shake it around until the cake pan is coated on the bottom and the sides. before shaking the excess flour into the sink or trash can.

And, yes, that is completely necessary if you are making a two layer cake and you actually want the cake to come out of the pan.

Plus, you must wait until the bottom of each cake pan is cool (ie, you won’t burn your hand when you place it under the cake pan) before trying to get it out of the pan, or half of it will still stay in the pan!

Now, for the keeping moist part – here’s a neat little trick. Right after you take your cake pans out of the oven and they are cooling on racks, spread a thin layer of jam to cover the top of each cake layer. If you don’t have jam, you can use a think layer of whipped cream instead, as long as you realize it will soak into the cake.

Wait until the cake layers are completely cooled before removing from the pans to frost it or your frosting will slide right off of your cake. You can cover the pan with a plate to flip it out of the pan and onto the cake stand or another plate on which you are planning to frost it.


My Mother’s Kugel

Personal note – my mom made her kugel recipe every Yom Kippur for the break fast meal. She gave it to me years ago, but I never bothered to try the recipe because it was one of those dishes she made.

After she died, my dad and I tried to find her recipe binder. In the ensuing weeks afterwards, we never did find the binder, but I did find the recipe she gave me.

She forgot to mention she always made a minimum of a double recipe. I had to make it several times, experimenting, because I always remembered she made it in a 13″ x 9″ pan, but the original recipe didn’t fill a 13″ x 9″ pan. My dad says that’s because it was my mom’s mom’s recipe (my Grandma Annie).

On the flip side, my children really enjoyed the experiments and had kugel for breakfast for a few weeks prior to the high holidays. Enjoy!

Kugel for Break Fast (Noodle Pudding)

1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract

16 oz cream cheese

8 eggs

2 cups milk (almond or rice, etc.)

2/3 -1 cup sugar

1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted

3 cups crushed bran flakes

16 oz wide egg noodles, cooked

1 cup golden raisins (optional)

cinnamon sugar – enough to sprinkle on top


1) Preheat oven to 350 F.

2) Beat eggs, cream cheese, vanilla, sugar, and milk together.

3) Put cooked noodles in 13″ x 9″ pan.

4) Gently stir egg mixture into noodles until combined.

5) Evenly pour crushed flakes over top of noodle mixture.

6) Drizzle butter over the top of the flakes and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the butter.

7) Bake at 350 F for ~1 hour. Refrigerate leftovers. Good cold for breakfast.

Berry Chip Muffins

Berry Chip Muffins

1 egg

1 cup pureed berries*

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup oil

2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

*I have used strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, and even leftover apple – when you puree, use a splash of water.

1) Beat liquid ingredients and sugar together first.

2) Add remaining ingredients and mix only until ingredients are combined. Batter will be lumpy.

3) Pour into oiled muffin tin, or loaf pan. Bake in preheated oven at 350 F until muffin bread springs back to touch or toothpick comes out clean. For mini-muffins 10-15 minutes, for regular muffins 20-30 minutes, for loaf pan 40-55 minutes, depending on how hot your oven runs.