Category Archives: Home Cookin'

Healthy Home-made Pumpkin Cheesecake

hot off the presses

hot off the presses

I am always on the look-out for healthy alternative desserts. Sometimes I buy chemical-laden products straight off the shelves of a supermarket, but I prefer to create my own. When it comes to calories coming from dessert, I’d like to know where they are coming from and what ingredients are involved. Enter my attempt at a Pumpkin Cheesecake.

Here’s a view of all included items:

Plus some whipped egg-whites:

separate and not equal

separate and not equal

whip it

whip it

After everything is incorporated into one bowl, this is what we’re dealing with:
Without any specific measurements, the final product came out better than expected. It was smooth-ish, but also has a semi-pudding consistency that was best used as a yogurt topping, rather than a slice of pie. You can’t expect the best cheesecake when substitutions are widespread, but this was one of my best efforts – 🙂


Bounty from the Sea

I’m heading out of town for the next week (Florida for pleasure and New York for work). Octosquid must live on during the interim, so please give a warm welcome to the guest bloggers that appear in the coming days. First up, we have Octosquid’s mom!

If you love seafood (and who doesn’t?), and you live near Hewlett, NY, then it’s definitely worth a trip to the Hewlett Fish Market. Here you can find a vast array of both fresh fish and seafood, as well as a plethora of delectable prepared salads, soups, main dishes, and vegetables.
Recently, I purchased some of my favorite “ready-mades” to have for lunch and/or snacking.
The marinated mussels are rich and flavorful – swimming in olive oil, loads of diced garlic, chopped scallions, and a touch of red pepper.

Savory specialty from the sea

Savory specialty from the sea

The calamari salad is a particular favorite. Not only is it chock full of firm calamari rings, but there is always a multitude of yummy tentacles as well. The fish is dressed in a light garlicky vinaigrette, and combined with crunchy celery, sweet red pepper, and black olives.
What more could you want?

What more could you want?

Picking out the best parts

While at the market, I decided to buy some fresh fish for dinner. After vacillating about the many tempting choices, I decided to go with the tried-and-true tilapia (St. Peter’s). At home I concocted a zesty marinade of olive oil, orange juice, ginger, tabasco sauce, salt and pepper. The fish rested and soaked up the marinade for about an hour.

Waiting to be fired

The fish was then grilled, and quickly devoured.

I may not be pretty, but I am delicious!

Hewlett Fish Market has been a mainstay in our family for years – I think it’s clear why!

Healthy Meal: Quinoa with Spinach and Tofu

With the holidays fully underway, there are many healthy meals in my future. Without the balance between family gorge-fests, Buford Highway excursions, and simple, healthy meals, I would not be able to close my jeans. While, I don’t find most nutritionally driven meals all that exciting, I wanted to share a recent dinner that was satisfying and comforting (oh, and it tasted good).

We had some leftover quinoa in the refrigerator that needed to be eaten. One of my favorite meal bases (as opposed to rice, couscous, pasta), quinoa is sometimes called a superfood. According to the wiki, “It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a grass. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beets, spinach and tumbleweeds”.

use it or lose it

A box of Nasoya tofu was purchased to pump up the protein:

It comes all cubed up – what a convenience:

I'm easy

Throw the tofu and some baby spinach into a wok with flavored broth (I used vegetable bouillon):

wok it up

Add in the quinoa:

Mix it all up with heat below:

And dinner is served:

Enjoy! (and feel no guilt)

Thanksgiving: Recap

Gather 'round

I’m sure most of you are Thanksgiving-ed out, so I will keep my recap brief.

Like most families, the food at my table is a combination of traditional turkey-day grub as well as cultural edibles.

For us, that means we must start with matzoh ball soup:

hot balls

my portion

My grandma makes this soup for every holiday occasion. Her version of matzoh balls are light and fluffy; they are the cornerstone of our meal.

Next, we move onto chicken fricassee:

my portion

Made with turkey meatballs, carrots,raisins, and various chicken parts (necks, gizzards, hearts), the gravy of this dish is to die for. We mix it with mushroom barley to soak up the rich, meat-flavored sauce.

And here is my uncle giving us a closer look at his chicken heart:

After the opening ceremony of Jewish courses, the Thanksgiving fare starts rolling out of the kitchen:

gobble gobble


chunky cranberry molded (in a good way) sauce

And we throw in some vegetables for good measure:

Everyone’s favorite plate is the glazed corned beef. This is spoken about all year long and is completely devoured by night’s end.

Here is my plate:

(that’s only plate number 1 – I had turkey and cranberry sauce to close out the meal)

As always, the food was excellent but the company was better. We relaxed for awhile to digest before attacking dessert:

proud of her accomplishments

Chocolate, chocolate chip cakes, banana chocolate chip cake, thumbprint cookies, fruit bars, tollhouse chocolate chip cookies, cheesecake AND:

you won't regret eating me 🙂

Much thanks to my wonderful grandmother for putting together another over-the-top meal filled with savory and sweet delicacies. Hope you all had an awesome holiday. I’m ready to go eat some post Thanksgiving breakfast (that may or may not include leftover cheesecake)

Oh, and there was an addition to our table this year; and he was very well behaved:

I tasted turkey - wahoooo!

Cheesecake for Thanksgiving

Howdy folks. I know everyone is already in the holiday mode- cooking, eating, and spending time with family. I am putting together a capital R’eally’ easy cheesecake to bring to my grandma’s house for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving celebration. You probably have most of the ingredients in your house and will spend less than $10 on the ingredients picked up at the market. Bring this cake to your Thanksgiving and bring happiness to your family (plus it’s so simple you won’t feel an ounce of stress).

Here is what you’ll need:
1 lb cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)
1 lb ricotta cheese (I used Polly-O)
1 lb sour cream (I used Breakstone)
1.25 cups sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
4 tbsp corn starch
5 eggs

This is all I picked up at the store to make my creation:

Let the cheese soften (for about an hour out of the fridge) and dump it all into a bowl (also add the corn starch and sugar):


Then mix up the 5 eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl:

Beat it up:

it's growing

Throw it into a springform pan:

And remember to get all the batter in:

Lastly, have a taste of the batter for quality control:

mmm, mmm, good

Trust me, this will be the easiest cake you will ever make and it will please your guests to no end. Enjoy!

Honeydew or honey don’t?


My body has been craving fruit. Maybe it’s all the eating out? Maybe I’m dehydrated and sugary liquid is just what it needs? Either way, I concocted one of my signature (i.e. interesting) desserts just last week.
I try to stay in the healthy territory when eating at home, so I started with a base of a half of a honeydew. Then, I plopped in some Fage Greek Yogurt (I use the 0% kind). A little drizzle of agave nectar on top and I was all set to dig in. Thumbs up.

Any takers?

anyone? bueller?

How NOT to make carrot soup

Recently, I was gifted an abnormally large bag of baby carrots (Costco size). After many bowls of chicken soup, there were still more carrots than I knew what to do with. I have been wanting to try using a blender to make soup (as seen on Iron Chef America) and this was my opportunity.
It all started with fully cooked, tender carrots in chicken stock:


please don't puree me!


any last words?


into the blender they went


carrots pureed


transferred into a pot for some heat


added salt, pepper, indian ginger powder


and old bay seasoning


and chili powder, ground cloves, sesame seeds


more sesame seeds on top for texture

It was NOT good at all! I forced myself to eat a bowl, but the rest went down the drain. What did I do wrong???


I am a major failure