eat well, travel often, dream big!

Grilled Manchego Cheese with Quince Paste, Pears and Walnut Butter

Does this bread not scream fall? When I stopped by the bakery and saw trays of this beautiful bread fresh out of the oven I knew I had to scoop up a loaf and make something really delicious. It doesn’t take too much convincing for me to try new breads, in fact there was a loaf of spinach feta bread that I had to restrain myself from bringing home. One of the recipes I’ve been most looking forward to creating from Emeril’s “Kicked Up Sandwiches” is the one I chose to make with this bread. The recipe calls for quince paste which I was worried I would not be able to find but chance had it I was at a Whole Foods a few weeks ago and they had some. Quinces are very common in Moroccan cooking and I’ve eaten them once or twice when there. I think they are really unique because when they’re eaten raw they are very bitter but when cooked become sweet. The quince paste is slightly bitter but the sweet flavors come through. I’m a convert to the quince – there’s a new tajine recipe I’ll be posting soon that uses it as well.

Today is cold and rainy – perfect weather to make a sandwich that’s oozing with cheese!  Emeril’s original recipe calls for idiazabal cheese but I couldn’t find this anywhere so I opted for his sub of manchego. The star of the sandwich may be the walnut butter which is perfect with this bread. Combine the other ingredients and grill in a panini press or if you’re like me and don’t have a panini press toss it in your waffle maker or grill pan.  I wish I would have had a big bowl of a creamy potato soup to eat this with! It really is a great anytime sandwich, I would serve this for breakfast, lunch of dinner.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post however I did receive the Kicked-Up Sandwiches Cookbook for free in order to participate.  I will not be sharing the complete recipe for each sandwich as this compromises the integrity and intellectual property of the cookbook author.  If you would like the complete recipe for this sandwich, cookbooks can be pre-ordered from the publisher. 

Read more
Moroccan Spicy Sweet Apple Croissants

Moroccan Spicy Sweet Apple Croissants

It feels like fall has been slowly making an appearance here.  Summer was long and hot, a very un-traditional Midwestern summer. In July local apple orchards began reporting they wouldn’t have apples available to pick, they were expecting the trees wouldn’t produce because of the fruit. Thankfully some were diligent with watering and have opened for fall apple picking. Finally the nights are dipping near freezing and slowly we’re seeing the leaves begin to turn.  I love this time of year,  apples, pumpkins and squash, hot cocoa, sweaters and cool nights.  It’s still warm enough to enjoy activities outside but cool enough not to be uncomfortable.

Waking up this morning and walking into my kitchen I was greeted by a cool burst of air and an icy cold floor reminding me it’s time to get my slippers out. I knew an easy breakfast that combined my favorite fall and Moroccan flavors in one dish was what was called for today.  Serve this for a breakfast or dessert dish.


  • 1 can croissant dough
  • 2 baking apples (such as Cortland, Gala, or Granny Smith)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • pinch of salt
  • handful of chopped almonds for garnish

Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 5 clove studs
  • 1/2 c heavy cream or almond milk at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp butter cut into pieces
  • pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 350F. Begin preparing by peeling and coring the apples.  Chop into 1″=2″ pieces and place in a mixing bowl.  Measure cinnamon, ginger,  and cardamom powders along with the salt and sprinkle on top of the apples. Mix with a spoon to coat all of the apples.

Open the croissant dough and unroll.  Separate one triangle from from the dough and place a small handful of apples on the large end of the dough.  Lift up the long corner of the dough and fold on top of the apples. Roll the apples up with the remaining dough.  One end of the dough will be closed and one open.  Place the closed end down in a baking dish.  Continue until all of the dough has been used.  Spread the remaining apples around the edges of the dish.

Apple Croissants Unbaked

Slide pan into the preheated oven for 10 minutes and begin making caramel sauce.

On stovetop add 1c of sugar, 1/4 c of water, and cloves to a large saucepan. Turn heat to medium and begin stirring with a wooden or silicone spoon. Continue stirring until the mixture begins turning a light brown on the edges. Remove from heat and slowly add the cream or almond milk as well as butter. The syrup will start to bubble but just continue to mix until it settles down. The syrup will thicken but is still quite fluid. Remove the cloves with a slotted spoon or fork.

When the croissants have baked for 10 minutes pull the pan from the oven and drizzle with the caramel sauce.  You will have caramel leftover.  I added about 1/4c of caramel sauce but please use more if you want gooey buns.  Reserve the remaining caramel to top the individual servings with. Bake croissants for 8-10 more minutes until golden brown on top.  When the croissants are completely cooked top with chopped almonds and more caramel as desired. Serve hot.

Moroccan Apple Croissant

You May Also Like

  • 50
    I could watch cooking shows all day long - in any language. I am always intrigued by what a chef chooses to create with ingredients, especially unique ingredients. On an episode of Chopped one of the ingredients was quail eggs. I remember thinking how adorable the little eggs looked, but slightly queasy thinking of the…
    Tags: breakfast, dish
  • 48
      I am a sucker for snack foods. It's a huge downfall when I'm trying to watch what I eat so I really try to find great options that still are healthy. A few weeks ago I was introduced to Vibrant Flavors dukkah and pretzels and let's just say I was smitten from the beginning.…
    Tags: breakfast
  • 48
    I've got to be honest I had never tasted farro before finding out about a cooking challenge from Tuscan Fields and Eat Write Retreat.  I knew it was a grain and it reminded me of barley but that's about it.  A quick google search told me that it's really common in salads. So when two…
    Tags: breakfast
Read more
Almond Peach Cobbler

When I first opened my foodie penpals box a few weeks ago I could smell the peaches. I’m sure that my penpal didn’t go to a peach farm and pick these however just knowing they were much fresher than what turns up in our grocery store.  The smell immediately brought me back to my favorite farmer’s market in Old Town Alexandria, VA. The first weeks in Virginia were a confusing mess.  I have to admit I was terrified to go almost anywhere because I was so afraid of getting lost.  We lived on a very long street that stretched miles – all the way to the Potomac harbor. I learned this street first.  Each trip I became more adventurous, going a little further.  Then, I stumbled on the farmers’ market.


With my boys in tow (because they were both still pretty small!) we wove our way around the booths.  I picked up zucchinis and felt a pang of homesickness for my Midwestern roots.  But then, I stumbled on the peaches.  PEACHES?!?!  Truth be told I hadn’t even thought of the different produce that would be available to us living in this different climate.  Let’s just say I bought a lot of them. Every week we went back and I would get peaches – we were all peach-ed out by the time the season closed.

So that first scent of peaches left me standing at my counter missing Virginia just a little.

Two of the peaches were a little bruised from their long travels and so I wanted to use them right away.  I decided to make a peach cobbler based off of a recipe I found in the Tupelo Honey Cafe: Spirited Recipes from Asheville’s New South Kitchen Cookbook.  It’s a beautiful book, that takes me back to the Southeast (and makes me wish desperately for a trip to Asheville, NC).

This is best eaten hot – I loved serving it on top of plain Greek Yogurt for breakfast.

Almond Peach Cobbler

Almond Peach Cobbler (adapted from Tupelo Honey Cafe)


  • 5 peaches, skin removed and cut into slices
  • 1 1/4 c water
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • t Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds
  • 1/2 cup sweet white rice flour
  • 1/2 stick butter


  • Preheat oven to 325F. Mix 3/4 c water with 1/2 c sugar until well combined and then add all of the peeled and sliced peaches. Place into an oven proof baking dish and bake 10 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 400F.
  • In another bowl mix the vanilla, 1/2 c water, cinnamon and almonds.
  • Drain the peaches, reserving the syrup. Mix the syrup with brown sugar, cornstarch and a pinch of salt. Pour this mixture over the peaches, along with the almond mixture.
  • Finally in a food processor add the butter and sweet rice flour and pulse until it looks crumbly. Add this to the top of the peaches.
  • Slide the dish into the oven for 20-25 minutes until the top starts to brown and the liquid is reduced.
  • Eat hot as a dessert with ice cream or as breakfast with some yogurt.
Read more
Gluten-Free Biscuits and Chicken Sausage Gravy

Gluten-Free Halal Biscuits and Gravy

When I was growing up my family would take regular vacations to Florida. We didn’t travel the luxurious way (i.e. airplane) we drove.  From the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Florida is a 27 hour drive at least.  Not so much fun when you’re stuck in van hour upon hour.  We would drive the entire first day and night and by morning be somewhere in Tennessee or Georgia. My grandma would then navigate us to a Bob Evan’s, Waffle House or Shoney’s.  This meant the opportunity to gorge ourselves on either an overloaded southern style buffet or eat pecan waffles until they were coming out our nose.  If the buffet option was selected, my grandpa would always have biscuits and gravy.  I admit I enjoyed them too.

It’s been years since I have eaten biscuits and gravy because they are always made with pork sausage. But, a few weeks ago I received a package of Gold ‘N Plump Breakfast Chicken Sausage and saw my opportunity. Most of the time chicken or turkey sausages are cased in pork so we’re not able to enjoy them.  These are not. (ps there’s a coupon on their site for $1 off if you want to try them!) M is in love with the sausages and I now need to have a stock of them in the freezer.

This was not difficult to make, and while it’s virtually impossible to get the same flaky texture of a traditional biscuit in a gluten-free version these work great for sopping up the gravy!

Gluten Free Biscuits

Gluten-Free Biscuits and Chicken Sausage Gravy


    For the Biscuits
  • 1 1/2 c white rice flour
  • 1/2 c corn meal
  • 1 c sorghum flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 stick butter cubed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c milk
  • water (if needed)
  • For the Gravy
  • 1 1/2 - 2 c chicken stock
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 3 tbsp white rice flour
  • 1 package chicken sausage cut into pieces


    For the Biscuits
  • Preheat oven to 375F
  • Mix white rice flour, corn meal and sorghum flour with baking soda, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum in a large bowl.
  • Add the cubed butter and break up with your hands or a dough hook on a stand mixer. The texture should be crumbly.
  • Beat the egg and add the milk and egg to the dry ingredients. Mix with a dough hook or knead with your hands until the mixture is dough-like. You may need to add some water if it is still dry. Just add water slowly until all the dry ingredients are mixed in.
  • Form the dough into a biscuit shape and place on a baking sheet. Cook for 15-18 minutes until biscuits are golden brown.
  • For the Gravy
  • In a large skillet, brown the sausage. Remove from the heat and cut into pieces. The size is up to you.
  • Add the butter to the skillet and allow to melt. Sprinkle with the white rice flour and mix to create a roux. Slowly add the chicken stock, mixing with whisk to blend the roux with the liquid. As the gravy thickens add more of the chicken stock. When the sauce is at a consistency similar to a cream soup, add the chicken pieces back in and season with salt and pepper.
  • Pour gravy on top of a hot biscuit and enjoy!

Don’t forget about my giveaway for Saffron Road Simmer Sauces!!  The contest ends tonight at midnight.

Read more
Breakfast Dukkah and a  {Giveaway}

I am a sucker for snack foods. It’s a huge downfall when I’m trying to watch what I eat so I really try to find great options that still are healthy. A few weeks ago I was introduced to Vibrant Flavors dukkah and pretzels and let’s just say I was smitten from the beginning. Not only are these products low in fat and calories they have some awesome flavors! Some of you might be wondering what dukkah is.
You won’t find dukkah in Morocco (though sellou might be considered a close cousin). This dip hails from Egypt. From the Vibrant Flavors website, “Dukkah is a traditional food with origins in Egypt. It is told that weary desert travelers would gather by a small fire and roast this nutritious nut-spice combination. Full of protein, calcium, minerals and fiber, dukkah replenished their energy.” I love the versatility of dukkah and that it’s naturally gluten free. Vibrant Flavors has five varieties of Oregan Dukkah available. (Did I mention this product is made and packaged in Oregon?)

oregon dukkah

The flavors are;

  • Traditional
  • Zesty
  • Smoky Hot
  • Sweet
  • Coconut

Guess what – they are all so tasty!  I love to eat dukkah with some bread dipped in olive oil but these flavors beg to be used in cooking!  Along with all of these flavors I also received the Vibrant Flavors pretzels. The pretzels are fat free, vegan, and all natural.  
The varieties offered are;

  • Beerzels (that’s right beer flavored pretzels that use no alcohol!)
  • Italian Herb
  • Sweet Onion
  • Roasted Garlic
  • Barbeque
  • Maple Bacon (no actual animal products used – yes!)

Since I have eaten traditional flavored dukkah I thought it would be fun to play with the sweet flavors.  There were some instant ideas that came to mind but I wanted to do something a little more.  Breakfast is a meal I always struggle with and usually there isn’t much variety in what we do eat.  Here’s my ideas for making breakfast more interesting with dukkah!
the critic
M has been down with the flu for the last week so I had to enlist the taste testing support of K. This presents an added challenge.  M is the adventurous eater; K not so much. If he likes it I’m pretty sure anyone would like it!  I came up with two easy breakfast ideas that use dukkah.

Apples and Dukkah


Both of my boys love apples so I cut some very thin and dipped them in almond butter, then rolled one end in the sweet dukkah.  This flavor is warmer (I think there is some cinnamon) and has just enough zing.  You could dip the slices in peanut butter or nutella and the flavor would be great too.


Dukkah Oatmeal


Dukkah Oatmeal


K really likes oatmeal so I was confident this would be a hit and it couldn’t be easier to make.



  • 3/4 c vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 c steel cut oatmeal
  • 1 tbsp organic cane syrup
  • 1 tbsp coconut dukkah


Bring the milk to a boil on the stovetop and add the oats.  Reduce the heat and cover the pan. Cook 8-10 minutes until the oats are soft.  Place into a bowl, drizzle with the cane syrup and sprinkle dukkah on top. Eat hot.
This was my favorite and as I’m writing this I wish I had a giant bowl to eat! Some other ideas for using dukkah;

  • Buffalo Chicken – Coat chicken in your favorite hot sauce and roll in zesty or smoky hot dukkah and bake
  • Coconut Shrimp – Coat shrimp in coconut dukkah and bake
  • Cheese ball – Mix 8oz cream cheese and 4oz goat cheese into a ball and roll in any flavor dukkah
  • Sprinkle the zesty dukkah on top of pasta for a healthy topping


The best news?  One of you will win a prize pack from Vibrant Flavors!

I know you’ll love these products as much as me.  The winner will get a mix of dukkah and pretzels. Follow directions in the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. You have until March 29th to get your entries in!

You May Also Like

  • 75
    I've got to be honest I had never tasted farro before finding out about a cooking challenge from Tuscan Fields and Eat Write Retreat.  I knew it was a grain and it reminded me of barley but that's about it.  A quick google search told me that it's really common in salads. So when two…
    Tags: breakfast
  • 58
    If there is one thing my boys really enjoy it's getting into my kitchen and "helping" mom.  They do help but it is definitely a test of my patience.  I try to let them help me at least once a week, generally on the weekends.  Usually it's a group effort but I am starting to…
    Tags: breakfast
  • 57
    Today is National Crepe Day - did you know there even was such a thing?? Crepes are a favorite in our house. Both of my boys love them for breakfast or snacks. Thanks to the French influence in Morocco it's very common to find stands selling crepes in nearly every city. If I have time…
    Tags: breakfast
Read more
Apple Pear Galette with Jarlsberg Cheese {Gluten-Free}

Apple and Pear Galette with Jarlsberg Cheese


Desserts and breakfast treats have, by far been the hardest items for me to replicate in a gluten-free version.  They also are the things that MarocBaba misses the most.  I think we all miss it.  I haven’t felt like it’s fair to enjoy these treats when I know he can’t. Instead I’ve been flexing all of the culinary skills I can muster to try and make gluten-free copies. There used to be a bakery in our town that had the most amazing French pastries including an apricot galette that I went crazy for. I had some free time one weekend, lots of apples and pears in my fridge that needed to be used, and a fresh stock of gluten free flours on hand.  There was only one thing to be done – BAKE!


Apple Galette Filling


2 cups coconut flour
1 cup almond flour
11/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp xantham gum
1 stick or 4oz of cold butter cut into cubes
2 tbsp vegetable shortening
1/4 c Jarlsberg cheese grated finely
1/4 c ice water

2 apples peeled, cored and sliced thinly
2 pears (use a firm variety) peeled, cored and sliced thinly
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
A few shakes of cinnamon (add it to your taste – we’re not big fans)
To Make the Crust
Add the coconut flour, almond flour, xantham gum, sugar and salt to a food processor. Begin to pulse and add the butter and vegetable shortening. Continue to pulse until there are no large pieces left and the dough looks like bread crumbs. Mix in the grated Jarlsberg cheese and slowly add the water just until the dough comes together.
Warp the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours but up to 24 hours.
To Make the Filling
Preheat oven to 400F
Mix the apples and pears with the cornstarch to ensure that all of the apples are coated. Then add the lemon juice, cinnamon, sugar and mix well.
Remove dough from the fridge and divide into four equal parts. You also could make one very large galette. Allow the dough to warm up a little. Lightly dust a cutting board with coconut flour or almond flour and press out the dough. I found that using a rolling pin caused the dough to stick too much. You will want to create a round disc shape.
In the middle of the disc layout the apple/pear mixture. You can lay it out in a circular design or just pile in the fruit – either way it tastes great!
Fold up the edges of the galette. It WILL NOT cover the full top of the pastry – it’s not supposed to. If the dough buckles or even crumbles a little bit it’s ok. This is a rustic pastry.
Slide each galette onto a baking sheet that it will not stick to. I like to use a silpat liner when baking things like this to ensure it does not stick. A sheet lined with parchment paper will also work.
Once all galettes are ready to bake, place in the oven for 20 minutes and check. The crust should be a toasted brown color and the fruit soft when you poke with a fork or knife. If they are not done at this point, continue checking every 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook – gluten-free dough is unforgiving when overcooked – you will have galette dog biscuits!
Allow the pastry to cool some before serving. I think these taste best when warm. You can top them with some more Jarlsberg cheese for an added bite!
Apple Galettes

It might seem odd to use cheese in a crust but I think it’s a great addition to a gluten-free baked item. One of the things that I have struggled with when baking gluten-free is that the consistency is either too dense like a cake or too crumbly and not binding together.  Xantham gum helps to bind together the flours but the cheese in this recipe helps to stick the dough together!  It also adds another flavor. Jarlsberg cheese has a mild and nutty swiss flavor.  It’s not overpowering like a cheddar might be but it has enough of a tang to give a really nice flavor when paired with a flour like almond.  I’ve also thought of recreating this and laying a layer of cheese on the bottom inside of the pastry.  You can find more great recipes using this cheese on the Jarlsberg blog (where I played around for recipe ideas before making this!)

I am entering this recipe to win a scholarship from Jarlsberg to attend Eat, Write, Retreat 2012 in Washington DC.  I was not compensated in anyway for this post and all opinions are my own.  I’ve been eating Jarlsberg cheese for years and this opportunity in no way reflects my opinions of the product.

Read more

It’s here, it’s here! One of the most requested video tutorials is finally here! If you’ve been wanting to make m’semmen or have tried but it hasn’t worked out here’s the video how to! You can find the original recipe here.


I’m always open to suggestions for recipes you would like to see on video – just let me know!

Read more
Moroccan Breakfast Ideas

This week get ready for posts sharing our past trip to Morocco.  I have to admit I haven’t been overly creative in the kitchen lately.  Maybe it’s the cold weather, lack of motivation or just being really really busy.  Even when I have cooked the food has gotten scarfed before photographing! I occasionally find myself falling into this slump (don’t we all?) but after a week or two I climb out of it and am back to creating.  I do hope you’ll enjoy the forthcoming posts because I think they’re just as interesting!

moroccan breakfast

Moroccan breakfasts are by nature simple.  Pancakes, fatty sausages, and loads of potatoes are not normal fare.  Instead you’ll find something lighter though usually carbohydrate-laden.  This bread was a corn/sesame seed mixture.  I’ve actually never heard or seen it before this past trip.  MarocBaba’s family made sure to look for gluten free options for him (he didn’t follow a very gluten-free diet but made swaps when he could).  I actually preferred this bread to the sometimes dry white bread rounds that graced the table.  It had more substance and taste.

With this bread MarocBaba added raw pressed olive oil and lots of honey to the top.  Simple and satisfying.

Some other options you might find for breakfast;

  • baguettes or khobz – Moroccan bread (always)
  • olive oil to be eaten with the bread, slathered on as we might do with butter
  • butter
  • some type of jam
  • Moroccan mortadella – it’s meat and it comes in a package like this.  It’s a turkey bologna.
  • La Vache Qui Rit cheese triangles – known in the US as Laughing Cow cheese
  • m’semmen (special occasion)
  • beghrir (special occasion)
  • you might also find some fruit or yogurt such as traditional Moroccan Raib
I find Moroccan breakfast to be a contrast from other meals.  It surprises me how vast the styles, flavors and complexities of lunch and dinner meals can be, while breakfasts and even sweets to some degree are pretty basic.
Moroccan breakfast ideas you can make at home.
Tomorrow, I’m moving onto lunch…a very special Essaouairian lunch!
Read more