Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring Flings - Easter & Passover Tips & Treats!

The flowers are blooming, the hill sides are green, the air is fresh - Spring has sprung! And with spring comes friend and family gatherings, Passover chocolates and Easter bunny treats ; ) As per usual, you can find past year eco tips & healthy recipes by checking the 2008 & 2009 postings. There you will find lots to add to this year's menu along with the goodies & tips I'll be sharing below ; ) You ready? Let's "hop" to it!

If you are looking for some new goodies & candies that are eco, vegan, healthy and/or fair trade, I've found some new ones this year like:
  • Try goodies from The Natural Candy Store - gummies, eggies & chocolate for all ages & special diets
  • You can never go wrong with cookies, brownies, fudge, coffees & chocolates from Allison's Gourmet. Single orders as well as delicious gift baskets ; )
  • Looking for raw treats? How about Living Chocolate!
  • Skip the candy and give creative gifts this year. Re-use a basket by covering it in left over, festive fabric. Fill basket with paints and crayons, small sketch books, stickers and blank t-shirts or socks to personalize. Add some seed packets and celebrate spring with a new garden!
In addition to goodies to give as gifts, for baskets or to have at your festivities, here are a few recipes that will put some "Spring" in your step : ):

Hot Cross Buns
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp allspice
1 T sugar
1.1 lb raisins
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/3 cup warm water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Vegan butter
Powdered sugar

Put flour, salt, allspice, 1 T sugar and raisins in a bowl. Leave in a warm place.
Mix yeast, 1 tsp sugar and water. Leave yeast mixture to rise. Stir yeast mixture into flour mixture. Knead, roll into buns and leave in a warm place to rise. Bake 10-15 minutes at 425F/220C.  Brush cooling buns with butter and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Spring Jubilee Juice

1 (48-ounce) bottle cranberry juice, chilled
1 (32-ounce) bottle apple juice, chilled
1 (6-ounce) cans frozen limeade concentrate, thawed and undiluted
1/4 cup lime juice
3/4 to 1 cup of organic vodka (optional)
Crushed ice

Combine all ingredients, stirring well; serve over crushed ice.

Chickpea Cakes With Beet Horseradish Salad

2 large shallots
2 T olive oil
Dried thyme
Red pepper flakes
1 15oz can chickpeas
1/4 tsp lemon zest
Salt & pepper to taste
Coconut oil

Sauté the finely minced shallots in 2 tablespoons of olive oil with a pinch of dried thyme and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Add the rinsed chickpeas, cover and simmer until just heated through. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool. Add freshly grated lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Mash the peas with a potato masher and form into 1/4-cup mini-footballs. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. cover the bottom of a hot frying pan or skillet with coconut oil. Add the cakes in and lightly brown on each side.

Beet Salad:
2 1/2 pounds beets without their greens trimmed, leaving 2 inches of the stem ends intact
1/2 cup finely grated peeled fresh horseradish or 1/3 cup drained bottled horseradish
2 T sugar
2 T wine vinegar
3 T water

In a kettle cover the beets by 2 inches with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, and simmer the beets, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until they are tender. Drain the beets and under cold water slip off and discard the skins and stems. Cut the beets into wedges, in a bowl combine them well with the horseradish, the sugar, the vinegar, the water, and salt and pepper to taste, and let them marinate, covered and chilled, for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.

Serves chickpea cakes with a few spoonfuls of beet salad. Enjoy!

Grilled Veggie Pesto Matzah (or Pasta) Lasagna

2 boxes of matzah (substitute cooked lasagna noodles if you so choose)
13"x9"x2" baking dish
1 package of firm tofu, crumbled (seasoned with Italian seasoning, salt & pepper)
4 cups pesto (I like Le Grand Maison Brand, it is vegan an convenient)
olive oil
1/4 c. chopped garlic
2 bags of prewashed baby spinach
4 Asian eggplants
4 zucchinis
2 yellow bell peppers
3 large portobello mushroom caps or 6 shiitakes
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

Slice eggplant in half lengthwise, lay skin side own on paper towels and sprinkle salt on top. Let sit for a half hour. Cut squash in half lengthwise and along with the mushrooms, place into a large Ziploc freezer bag. About a half hour before cooking, press water out of the eggplant. Marinate eggplants, squash, yellow peppers & mushrooms in balsamic vinegar for about a half hour directly in the ziploc bag.

Preheat oven to 350. Grill the eggplant, squash, & mushrooms. Allow to cool slightly.

In a skillet, sauté spinach in olive oil with chopped garlic. Cut eggplant, squash, & mushrooms into bite size pieces.

Cover the bottom of the baking dish with 1 cup of the pesto. Add one layer of moistened matzah (run under water). Layer half the grilled vegetables, 2/3 cup of the pesto sauce and 1/4 of the crumbled tofu mixture in dish. Repeat layers twice, the second time using the spinach as your vegetable, and the third time using the rest of the grilled vegetables. Cover with a final layer of moistened matzah, brush to coat with olive oil and add about 2/3 cup of pesto sauce on top.

Bake at 350ºF for 45 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh basil & serve with additional pesto or tomato sauce if desired.

Death By Chocolate Toffee Matzoh

4 to 6 sheets unsalted matzohs
1 cup unsalted vegan butter
1 cup firmly-packed light brown sugar
big pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup vegan chocolate chips

Line a rimmed baking sheet completely with foil, making sure the foil goes up and over the edges. Cover the foil with a sheet of parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Line the bottom of the sheet with matzoh, breaking extra pieces as necessary to fill in any spaces.

In a 3-4 quart heavy duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the mixture is beginning to boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add the salt and vanilla, and pour over matzoh, spreading with a heatproof spatula. Put the pan in the oven and reduce the heat to 350F (175C) degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. As it bakes, it will bubble up but make sure it's not burning every once in a while. If it is in spots, remove from oven and reduce the heat to 325F (160C), then replace the pan. Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread with an offset spatula. Let cool completely, the break into pieces and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

I hope that you enjoy these, as well as past, recipes, tips & treats this festive Spring holiday!! A very happy Pesach & Easter to you all!

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