Smoothie Style Chilled Strawberry Soup

I am not a fan of chilled soups so when I found out that this month’s Kosher Connection  Link-Up theme was chilled soup I was slighlty intimidated.  After enlisting my creative juices I came to the decision that if I like smoothies I should like a soup that somewhat resembles a smoothie – and I was right!  This strawberry soup is quite refreshing, mildly sweet, creamy and delicious. I was inspired by this recipe that I found on the blog deliciousshot.blogspot.com. It’s also super simple to make.

Strawberry Soup Ingredients: 

  •  2 tbsp coconut sugar – you can read about the benefits of coconut sugar here
  •  1 lb strawberries – rinsed and sliced
  • 1.5 cup low fat coconut milk (the canned version)
  • Juice from half lime
  •  Zest half lime – for garnishing
  • Creme fraiche – for garnish
  • Black pepper – to taste
  • Fresh Mint

Strawberry Soup Instructions:

Step 1: Place strawberries in a small bowl and add lime juice, a few sprigs of fresh mint and coconut sugar.  Cover with saran-wrap and let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill and so the flavors can marinate.

Step 2: Once marinated, remove mint leaves and toss the strawberries with the juice and coconut milk in a blender.  Process until smooth.

Step 3: Pour into small serving glasses and garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche, a sprinkle of lime zest and black pepper.

Step 4: Eat in a sunny spot.

Creme fraiche is such a nice and decadent addition to this soup.  It  can resemble sour cream in texture but with a slighly nutty flavor and a little bit of tang.  It also goes well with the tartness and bite of the limes.  Plus the white color just looks so pretty against the pink.

Health Points: Mint not only adds a cooling freshness to this dish but it also comes with many health benefits.  One of it’s benefits is that it promotes digestion by activating the saliva glands in our mouth and the glands which secrete digestive enzymes.  So soup up! We enjoyed the soup on our rooftop after a day of running, softball, and biking.

xxxx TeamZ

Click on the blue frog below to check out the other kosher blogger’s “Chilled Soup” recipes.

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Easy Baked Tomatoes

DISCLOSURE: Because of its simplicity, and sometimes taste-specificity, I can’t provide exact measurements for this dish.  Making this dish is one of those instances where you can get away with saying, “oh, i just threw this together. no big deal.” You don’t need to muck up any measuring cups, and within in 20 minutes you have a perfect and healthy side dish, snack, or topping for a sandwich.

ADDED DISCLOSURE: It’s really my mother’s recipe so I can’t take credit.

Happy lycopening!

Baked Tomatoes Ingredients:

  • Grape Tomatoes
  • Plum Tomatoes
  • Olive oil for Drizzling
  • Montreal Steak Seasoning (25% less sodium)- if you do not have use garlic, salt, and pepper.
  • Mozerella Cheese for Sprinkling
  • Parlsey for Garnishing

Baked Tomatoes Instructions:

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 350.

Step 2: Half grape tomatoes and slice plum tomatoes- place on baking sheet.

Plum tomatoes are sweet but yet carry some tang as well. They are the go-to tomato for sauces and obviously for this dish.  Baking them truly brings out their richness.  Grape tomatoes are one of my favorite snacks- they pop in your mouth and our bursting with flavor.

Step 3: Drizzle with olive oil.

Step 4: Sprinkle with steak seasoning (garlic, salt, and pepper).  We love this bold spice in the TeamZ home. It is a mixture of salt, garlic, onion, black and red pepper.

Step 5: Place In oven for about 15 minutes- until tomatoes are tender.

Step 6:  Remove and sprinkle with shredded mozerella. Return to oven for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted.

Step 7: Garnish with chopped parsley to add some clean freshness.

Health Points: Although cooking tomatoes reduces some of the vitamin content- cooking with the skin on maintains the fiber. Another bonus of cooking the tomatoes is that it boosts the phytochemical Lycopene – a helpful antioxidant. It also gives tomatoes its vibrantly deep-red color. You may also end up popping some of the raw grape tomatoes in your mouth as you cook and give your body the Vitamin A, C, and K it deserves.

xoxx Tomato Happy TeamZ

Garlic Crouton Kale (Yeah) Salad

For this month’s link up the theme was croutons.  I happen to love the crunch of croutons in salads, soups, or even as a plain snack.  While there are several ways to make croutons,  I prefer mine pan-fried because this creates a crouton thats is crispy on the outside but moist on the inside.  However, if you prefer a crouton that is crunchy throughout, then use an oven to make and bake your croutons.  I like to use pumpernickel bread for my croutons because I love the texture and flavor of this hearty and bold bread.

These garlic-infused croutons are packed with flavor and super delicious.  They paired perfectly with my kale salad. I like the dressing I created for this salad, but if you are a Caesar dressing fan – which I am not – I think that would actually be a great dressing for this salad.  Matt and I first started eating Kale several years ago when we joined a CSA.  We got an exorbitant amount of kale on a bi-weekly basis, which truly tested our creativity: kale chips, kale salad, kale soups … kale ice cream. Just kidding..  This is when Matt developed his saying “Kale Yeah”.  He still thinks it’s funny years later.

Garlic Crouton Ingredients

  • 2-3 slices of day old pumpernickel bread
  • 2 tablespoons high oleic safflower oil
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced

Garlic Crouton Instructions

Step 1: Stack the bread slices on cutting board and remove crusts from each side. Cut into 1 inch cubes.

Step 2: Heat safflower oil in skillet over medium heat with garlic slices. Tip: Safflower oil has a high smoke point (not easily damaged by heat) and is an ideal oil to use when cooking over medium to medium high heat.

Step 3: Add in bread.  It will need approximately 2-3 minutes on each side.

Step 4: Remove bread and garlic slices and transfer to a  paper towel lined plate to drain. Season with salt and sprinkle with parsley while still hot.

Kale Crouton Salad Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale- washed and dried and tough stems removed. 
  • Shaved parmesean cheese (said in an Italian accent)
  • Homemade garlic croutons and fried garlic slices from above
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

Kale Crouton Salad Instructions:

Step 1:  Place olive oil, crushed garlic, lemon juice, dijon mustard, apple cider, and honey in a jar.  Whisk together and set aside.

Step 2:  Here is the #1 tip when making a kale salad.  Are you ready?

The kale needs some TLC – place kale in a bowl with a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.  Then massage the kale mixture for 3-4 minutes.  You will notice that the kale begins to soften and will reduce by approximately half.  The kale should look a little shiny and the green a little brighter.

See pic for before and after:

Step 3: Toss in parmesan cheese to your liking and drizzle salad with dressing.  The nutty tone of the parmeasean and the mildly bitter tone of the kale= great combo.

Step 4: Top with croutons, fried garlic slices, and dig in.

Health points: Kale is high in vitamin A and C. Safflower oil is high in monounsaturated fat which helps keep HDL cholesterol (the good one) high.

xoxx Team Kale Yeah

Click on the blue frog below to check out the other kosher blogger’s “Crouton” recipes.

Beluga Lentil, Tomato, & Asparagus Salad

When I was shopping at the local health food store the other day, I noticed a package of black beluga lentils and was quite intrigued. I am not a huge fan of lentils, but I just thought they were so cute and would look pretty when plated with some colorful veggies. They are easy to prepare, have a mild flavor and are packed with vitamin B and protein. For the dressing, I used Shiri Zimmerman’s tomato salad dressing recipe with some minor changes (she’s my sister-in-law and fellow lentil lover). The salad turned out to be a huge hit when we served it at her home in Deal, NJ, and is something  that will definitely make multiple appearances over the spring and summer.

Tomato Salad Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves garlic pressed
  • 1 tsp coconut palm sugar (lower glycemic index then white refined sugar- basically it doesn’t cause the sugar highs and lows that refined sugar is guilty of doing. It provides a slower release of energy. Measure it just like sugar 1:1 ratio.)
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 pint yellow and red grape tomatoes halved

Instructions

  • In a small jar whisk all ingredients together (except tomatoes).
  • Place tomatoes in dressing and let sit while you prepare the rest of the salad- this allows it to absorb all the delicious flavors of the dressing.

Asparagus Ingredients:

  • 1 Bunch Asparagus rinsed
  • 3 Cups Water
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Asparagus Instructions:

  • Place water and salt in a pot and bring to boil
  • Trim off the tough end of the asparagus (Tip: Take 1 asparagus stalk and snap off the tough end where it naturally breaks.  Place all asparagus together and use the broken asparagus as a guide for where to cut the rest). Discard the tough white end.
  • Place Asparagus in boiling water and cook for 5-8 minutes, or until tender.
  • Once tender remove immediately plunge into bowl of ice water

Black Beluga Lentils Ingredients & Recipe:

I just followed the package instructions for this…

  • Sort and rinse 1 cup lentils. Place in pot. Add 3 cups water. Bring to boil and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until tender.

Garnish with Parsley (as always I need my fresh herb fix) and plate to your liking.  The first time I served this I placed the beluga lentils on a plate. Topped neatly with asparagus and then with tomatoes soaked in dressing.  I then drizzled the remainder of the dressing over the dish (as pictured below).  The second time I made this dish I cut the asparagus into about 1 inch pieces and mixed all ingredients in a bowl and served as a salad for lunch at Shiri’s house (as pictured above). It was a big hit!

Health points: Beluga lentils are packed with fiber and protein. Asparagus is loaded with folate, vitamins A,C,E,K, and antioxidants.

xoxo almost caviar lovers

Having fun with Water

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I think most of us know that drinking water is mucho importante`. Although I find a glass of ice water refreshing, it also can get boring.  There are so many ways to make water more exciting and dress it up – you know, with a little extra panache and color!  Friends and family that have been to my house for a meal know that I seldom put a pitcher of plain water on the table. This blog post features some of my favorite water additions which not only add some fun flavor and color, they also bring some extra nutrients and vitality.

Water + Lemon + Thyme: Thyme has a minty and lemony flavor and pairs perfectly with freshly sliced lemon. Fresh thyme is also quite replete with Vitamins A & B6, Zinc, Folate & Manganese. For the full skinny on thyme, click here.

Water + Cucumber + Orange: This combo has been a huge hit in the TeamZ house.  Cucumber is loaded with Vitamin K, which is necessary for proper blood coagulation and essential for proper metabolic activity of bone growth and strength maintenance. And apropos of the charity for which we are running the triathlon, Vitamin K may play a role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease by limiting damage to vital neuronal processes. Click here for more nutrition facts on Cucumber!

Seltzer + Blueberry + Mint: There’s nothing wrong with water having some bubbles, right? This mix is perfect for a picnic outside, as the mint adds some freshness, while the blueberries add a delightful mix of sweet and tartness. Blueberries are loaded with beta carotene antioxidants, which if you may or may not know, help rid the body of harmful free-radicals that can stick around in the body to cause inflammation, degenerative body changes, and even cancers.

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Spring is in the air and we are spending more time outside in the sun and working out.  It is important to make sure to stay hydrated with plenty of cold water – especially with adding some of the above ingredients because they can certainly help aid any and all activities in which you’re partaking!

How do you like to dress up your water?

xoxo Team Z.

Brie and Raspberry Grown-up Grilled Cheese

When I was thinking of “the best thing I ever ate” for this month’s link-up theme, foods that fall in the “comfort” category came to mind. To me, grilled cheese is a classic comfort food which brings back memories of childhood lunches – especially when nothing else would satisfy my discerning taste buds. As an adult however, my palette has expanded long past plain macaroni with ketchup and Ritz crackers with cream cheese. That being said, my grilled cheese needs a grown up boost!

Giada De Laurentiis has a recipe for a mozzarella, jam, and brown sugar panini that I once tried and have never been able to get out of my mind. Today though, I have chosen to augment some of the ingredients and go with a brie, raspberry, honey, and rosemary panini on ciabatta bread: my adultified and (somewhat) healthified version of grilled cheese.

Brie cheese is mild and sweet, which I feel goes great with fresh berries and honey. And because I am a fresh herb junkie, rosemary is a must in this sandwich. You can just smell the delicious, fresh aroma released as you chop it up. The ciabatta bread, which we bought at a 100 year old staple of the Upper East Side, Orwasher’s Bakery, is light, airy and fresh. The exterior of the bread is dusted with flour and makes for an outstanding panini bread.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pint raspberries
  • 1 tsp honey
  • honey for drizzling
  • 3 oz brie cheese
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary- chopped
  • whole wheat ciabatta loaf or rolls
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions:

Step 1: Preheat panini press.

Step 2: Mash fresh raspberries in a bowl with 1 tsp of honey.

Step 3: Layer raspberry mash and brie cheese on one side of the ciabatta bread. Sprinkle rosemary over the raspberry and cheese.

Step 4: Sandwich the bread slices together and use a pastry brush to spread a little olive oil on both sides of the bread. Drizzle the top with honey.

Step 5: Gradually press down for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden and crispy.

If you don’t have a panini press you can use a grill pan.

Health points: Rosemary contains vitamin A, manganese, calcium, and iron. Raspberries are extremely high in antioxidants and vitamin C.

So eat up!

p.s. prior to this sandwich matt told me he does not like brie cheese- I showed him!

Click on the blue frog below to check out the other kosher blogger’s “best thing I ever ate” recipes.

Spinach and Strawberry Spring Salad

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When the weather gets warmer it means we move our workouts to the outdoors and add some fruit to our salads. My sister Jeni’s spinach and fruit salad is the perfect way to start off a springtime lunch! Strawberries are key in this salad since it is now peak strawberry season and they add a delicious burst of flavor. If you are a sweet and salty person, crumbles of feta cheese is the perfect addition.

Ingredients:

12 strawberries: stem removed and sliced

1/2 red onion- thinly sliced

1 avocado- sliced

1lb spring mix or spinach

handful of toasted and chopped walnuts – this adds a nice crunch to the salad

6 oz feta cheese – adds a nice salty flavor.

1 garlic clove, minced

1tbsp honey (Jeni uses sugar)

4 tbsp mayonaise low fat: although I am not a fan of using mayo I think it is fine in moderation, plus this addition really enhances the salad.

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

pinch of black pepper

Instructions:

Place spinach, strawberries, avocado, onion, and walnuts in a large bowl.

Whisk together honey, mayo, balsamic and garlic – drizzle on salad.

Finish it off with fresh pepper, toss, and dig in.

Serves 6-8 sweet and salty people

My sister makes this salad wherever she goes and it is always a hit! Here is a pic of the salad being made at my bachelorette party with the addition of mango. So make it for your friends and family and enjoy!

xoxo luvin fruit in salad season