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Easy No-Bake Pareve Key Lime Icebox Cake

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Is there anything better than the taste of lime in the summertime?  If you've read many of my posts here, you'll know I'm obsessed with lime flavoured anything, especially after a few years here in Israel with NO LIMES (waah!). Now that they're readily available and seasonal, I make sure to take advantage, gorging on amazing fresh Israeli limes before they're gone for the rest of the year.

(We do freeze some juice as cubes to use in sauces, salads, etc.)

I know what you're thinking, though.  It's NOT summertime.  By now, mid-October, we're well into fall.  But here where we live, temperatures are still in the 30s (celsius, I guess mid to high 80s F?) and we haven't really had our first good rain.  So it's still summer in my mind, though to be honest, I often forget what season it is.

In any case, the air conditioning is still running -- and that's what really counts.
And when it's hot outside, there seriously is nothing like lime.  And also, nothing like a quick, easy no-bake dessert.

Oogat Biskvitim, which literally means Biscuit Cake (in the British sense of cookie, rather than the American meaning of a savoury roll), is super-popular here, almost as much so as the ubiquitous Kadurei Shokolad, literally chocolate balls

In searching for recipes to tweak to get what I wanted, I found out that outside of Israel, it's most commonly known as

Sunny Side Up Rice: Weekday Asian skillet fried rice for one (pareve)

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Need a little something to bring an ordinary weekday over to the sunny side?

Here’s a way to elevate rice from a humble side dish to a glorious main course for one person, perfect for weekday lunch or light supper?  I don't usually talk about cooking for one, for the obvious reason that I live with several other people.  But when the kids are off at school all day, sometimes I want to invest a few minutes into making something truly delicious that’s just for me.

There aren't many foods as simple and comforting as rice, and though this fried rice dish has a number of steps, it's simple enough to prepare in the background while I’m working, and the end result is flavourful and incredibly comforting.  There are two possible variations -- "Indian" and "Chinese" (I'm using quotation marks because I don't want to pretend that these are authentic flavours...) that are equally simple to prepare.

This is why I love working from home – I can’t stand

What to eat when you're sick of Yom Tov food... (hint: Israeli-style Indian!)

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When I was little, my father went to India for a few weeks with his best friend.  There was some sort of classic Bollywood plot -- an arranged marriage for the friend which needed to be thwarted so he could marry the love of his life back in Toronto, something like that.

The actual plot doesn't matter.  What matters is that he came home with a love of all things Indian, from delicate little nose rings to Bollywood cinema to the delicious, flavourful treats he'd eaten all over the country.  We were lucky because Toronto had a nice little Indian village where you could browse in sari shops before or after eating your fill of spicy curries and savoury flatbreads of all kinds, topped off with an unbelievable fudge my brother and I couldn't stop making fun of because of its unfortunate name:  Barfi.

Yes, there is an actual dessert with the word "barf" in it.  As tiny tots,

EASY potato-peasy pareve-or-meat-or-vegan oven-baked samosas for Sukkos

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When you’re overwhelmed with yamim tovim and absolutely desperate for flavour and CRUNCH, there’s absolutely nothing like samosas!  I’m making these as part of an India-themed sukkah meal, which I hope to post the entire menu for at some point over the next little while, but you could absolutely serve these delicious crunchy bites all on their own, and fill them up with whatever savoury filling you happen to enjoy.

I happen to think Indian flavours go particularly well in the sukkah – whether your sukkah nights are chilly, like ours were in Toronto, or a little on the warm side, as they definitely are here.  If your meal is pareve, there’s lots of opportunity for delicious milk-based Indian sweets for dessert – otherwise, whatever you normally serve is just fine.

One reason I love these samosas is that you bake them in the oven, making them slightly healthier than a deep-fried treat, while these wrappers stay super-crispy no matter how you cook them.  It’s the satisfying texture of deep-fried, without all the oil.

The filling for these savoury could-be-vegan samosas is actually too easy for a recipe, but here goes:

Super-Easy Thick, Spreadable, Bakeable DIY Cream Cheese in Israel

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Cream cheese can be a hit or miss affair here in Israel.  Sure, some brands are okay for eating, but where the native product fails is usually when it comes to baked goods that call for genuine cream cheese, as I discovered at Shavuos a couple of years ago.  It's too thin, too gummy, too shiny, whatever.  It's just... WRONG.

In case you’re wondering, sour cream is called “krem gevina shamenet,” and as you can see, there are lots of flavour choices…

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…but none of them are anything I’d want to bake into a cheesecake.

But then this year, I found out I could make my own.  And not only does it taste great, it works perfectly in recipes!

I won't bother calling it a RECIPE, because it's too easy to be a recipe! 

It only works if you're in Israel, simply because you can’t get Israeli dairy products here.  Then again, if you're outside of Israel, you can probably just buy Philly.  The truth is, you can buy Philly here in a lot of places as well, as well as some good brands that substitute reasonably well.  But if you're turned off by additives like

Vegan Pretty Pink Swirl Kool-Aid Sugar Cookies

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I wanted something different for dessert this Shabbos and for whatever reason, my mind went to the stash of Kool Aid that's been sitting in the cupboard here for over a year.  And the only flavour of Kool Aid that counts, as far as I'm concerned, is Strawberry.

Feel free to make these with any colour you want!

Anyway, an image of these swirly cookies swirled into my mind and I knew exactly how I was going to make them.

All I needed was a decent sugar-cookie recipe that didn't rely overly much on butter.  I've used a couple of pareve sugar cookie recipes in the past, including this one from Couldn't be Parve, which uses margarine, and these ones which use shortening. 

But here in Israel, I don't like the taste of the margarine, there are no "healthier" margarines available, and shortening simply doesn't exist.  My substitute has become coconut oil, or (sometimes) half and half margarine and coconut oil.  So I started looking around for recipes... and found another one from Couldn't be Parve looked absolutely perfect. 

I wasn’t consciously looking for a vegan recipe, though I was delighted by the idea that we could nibble on the dough to my heart’s content!

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(Vegan goodness? demerara sugar, coconut oil, Kool Aid, coconut milk…)

This recipe uses coconut oil and coconut milk, which I was leery of but

The Kosher Cauliflower Nuggets Revolution: Have you been assimilated?

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Have you tried cauliflower lately?

I know, it’s been around for a bazillion years, but trust me – today’s cauliflower ain’t, as they say, your bubby’s cauliflower, steamed or boiled, mushy, drenched in cheese sauce.  Not that there’s anything wrong with cheese sauce (slurp!).

I admit I'm a latecomer to the cauliflower revolution.  But this versatile veg, which is showing up these days in everything from pizza crusts to vegan tacos, has won me over totally and utterly.

I mean, honestly, what's not to love?

- You can buy it frozen (no checking for bugs!) and just cook normally
- It's colourless so it can look like whatever you want
- It happily takes on the flavours of whatever you cook it with
- It's low-carb (okay, I don't care about this one much, but some people do!)

I mean, basically, cauliflower is the tofu of veggies.  Or, like the midrash says about mann (manna), the food the Jewish people ate in the desert, if you were righteous enough it could taste like anything you wanted.

I guess I’m pretty righteous.  Aren’t you?  And virtuous, if you’re adding cauliflower, which is a super-healthy cruciferous vegetable to your diet.  Pat yourself on the back!

But wait a second – just like with tofu and other bland-neutral foods, it's only healthy if you don't weigh it down with a ton of oil, processed flour, and whatnot.  If you bread it and deep-fry it, it will be yummy, but it won't be "health food," as such.

Since we had some in the freezer left over from the Spicy Cauliflower Bites we gobbled up the other day, I decided to make cauliflower nuggets (aka croquettes) for the kids’ after school lunch today.  (In honour of the second-last day of school I decided to get my act together!)

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These croquettes are a fabulously easy homemade replacement for storebought shnitzel, a staple food here in Israel, and also for tuna patties of various kinds.  They'd probably also work well with the addition of a little bit of thawed frozen spinach, for variety, or even other veg like frozen peas and carrots or frozen corn (don't puree them with the rest of the mixture, just stir in before forming croquettes!).

I adapted these “Cauliflower Tots” from Just a Taste, dubbing them “nuggets” because it’s more fun, making my nuggets pareve, and playing around with the seasoning a little, then baked them up quickly in the oven.  The whole project (not counting thawing the frozen cauliflower for a few minutes first) took under 1/2 an hour, start to finish, using the food processor, and they turned out absolutely delicious.  They hit that “need-something-savoury” spot just oh-so-perfectly round about mid-afternoon and you feel virtuous because unlike regular nuggets they’re not fried or heavy with chickeny greasiness.

All vegetables, all deliciousness, all the time!  I’d imagine they’d be easy to make vegan by using whatever egg substitute you prefer.  There’s only 1 egg, and in fact, because they’re not deep-fried, they might hold together fine without anything, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to risk it.

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(oops, didn’t realize I was going to take pics until the mixture was almost used up!)

I'm not going to list quantities here, because I wasn't keeping track.  You can find proportions in the original recipe or just

Fancy challah without braiding? Testing out the “dad hack”

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After however-many hundreds of years, it's not often that you come across a NEW way of making challah.

So when Seth Brandes shared his "dad hack" for making challah "without messing with braiding the dough," I passed it on earlier this week. (Why isn't anything moms do in the kitchen considered a hack?)

I also decided to try it out.  Instead of my usual portioning, balling, rolling, snaking, and braiding steps, I formed the dough into elongated ovals and got ready to go to town.

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