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Zest Therapy

Updated: 2018-03-07T12:21:16.050-08:00


Spanish Rice: Another Recipe from my Great Grandmother's Bible


I opened my email this weekend and found in the inbox a letter from my grandmother, my nommie.  This usually means one of two things:  that she is sending me a chain letter of some sort, most of which, I am sorry to say, I do not read...or, she is alerting me to some new 21st century danger in the most simple and effective way possible, "Dear Benny, I heard STDs are on the rise XOXO Nommie." my pleasant surprise, my Nommie had called to rave about my blog, more specifically my great grandmother's rhubarb bread.  She told me that she had another recipe from my nanny's bible, spanish rice, and would love to make it with me.  So that is what we did today...we made spicy spanish rice.Ingredients 1 Cup Brown Rice5-6 Swirls Olive Oil4 Small Onions2 Cans diced tomatoes, drained (tomato jalepeno mix was used)2 Bell Pepper4 Garlic Cloves, minced2 Teaspoons PaprikaSalt and Pepper to Taste2 Cups Waters Instructions Chop vegetables.  Heat oil in a pan.  Add rice, onions and garlic.  Heat for 10 minutes.  Add tomatoes, peppers, paprika, salt and pepper.  Add water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, and cover for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Music:  Tony Bennett (Nommie insisted on the music choice)[...]

Biology Cookout


I have shown you guys a bunch of recipes.  Now I wanted to show the people enjoying them.  Here are some assorted pictures from our AP Biology Cookout, a tradition the day before the exam.  I made my chili and barbecue sauce for this special occasion complemented by several pasta salad dishes (courtesy of many a class mom), Dr. Lynch's famous hot wings and several amazing types of desserts (I am trying to obtain a friend's chocolate cookie recipe so that I can post it.  They were, in a word, scrumtulecent)

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Music:  Phish - Golgi Apparatus (It's a song, believe me)

Sweet Mamma Jane's BBQ Sauce


For me, sunny Sunday afternoons have always screamed barbecue.  So after finding some burger patties in the fridge, I thought I would make some barbecue burgers, brazed with Mamma Jane's super barbecue sauce.  Here is the recipe for the sauce, use it on anything you wish.  I promise it will be delicious.  The making of this sauce is quite an art.  It is like making soup, constantly tasting and mixing around ingredients.  Most of the measurements were eyeballed and adjusted, but I did my best to quantify a "pinch".



1 1/2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Cup Water
1 1/2 Cup Ketchup
1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons worcestershire sauce
Tablespoon of spicy mustard
Tablespoon of dijon mustard
Dash of Tabasco sauce
Minced Garlic to taste
Tablespoon of Parsley
1/8 Teaspoon of Lavender
1/8 Teaspoon of Mustard Seed
Pinch of Lemon Grass
1/4 Teaspoon of Thyme
Kosher Salt to taste
2 Tablespoons of Honey
1/4 Cup Apricot Preserves
1/4 Cup Plum Cherry Preserves
Chopped Basil

**Note:  All spices were put in to taste and you may use whatever preserves you like, if any at all.


Chop onion and place in sauce pan.  Sauté chopped Onion in olive oil.  Slowly add the rest of the ingredients listed in the order above while stirring the mixture in medium heat.  Let the mixture cool and blend in a food processor until fine texture.


Music:  Lady Antebellum

Non-dairy puddin' for dear old Dad


Whatever your flavor of choice, chocolate or vanilla, this is the recipe for you.  I liken it to America's constitutional great compromise, but perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself.  So the following recipe is a vanilla tea infused soy milk and tofu chocolate pudding.  It has no added sugar, just that in the semisweet chocolate, and is pumped with protein.  Oh, and did I mention it is dairy-free...this one's for dear old Dad.  By the way...this is a recipe I adapted from (which is an unbelievably awesome site...really long hyperlink).  The original recipe called for green tea, but I was feeling some vanilla, so ahh here it goes (bonus points for the pop cultural reference). Ingredients 1 Cup chocolate soy milk1 Tablespoon loose vanilla tea leaves10 ounces semisweet chocolate chips13 ounces silken tofuOn the low side of 1/4 cup of extra firm tofu (the recipe called for soft tofu, but Whole Foods was out)1/2 Tablespoon of vanilla paste (a drop of vanilla paste) Instructions Pour chocolate soy milk and tea leaves into a bowl and bring to a boil.  Let it cool.  Melt chocolate chips in microwave (3 minutes).  Combine soy milk mixture, chocolate chips and tofu into a bowl.  Add vanilla paste.  Mix in food processor until silky smooth consistency.  Refrigerate for 2 hours. Verdict So it was a bit heavy in the chocolate flavor, and a little bitter.  Good "moosey" consistency, and I quite liked it when I added a few packs of splenda. Music:  The Beets - Killer Tofu[...]

Yay Passover


It's that special time of the year again...yes, you've guessed it:  Passover, and while in years past I have resigned myself to eating the bread of affliction for a week, I tried to funk it up this year.  This almond tort has no matzah in it, in any form, which I am incredibly happy about because I am already sick of this unleavened bread.  It came out incredibly moist and delicious, and gained the thumb of approval from my fellow tribesmen at school.  Enjoy...


1 Cup Almond Meal/Ground Blanched Almonds
1/2 Cup Sugar
Teaspoon Vanilla Powder (if you have it.  You could use something like cocoa powder as a substitute for example)
2 Large Eggs
Stick of Unsalted Butter

Mix together almond meal, sugar, vanilla powder and eggs.  Beat in butter at room temperature.  Place batter in 9 inch round, bottom lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.  Garnish with fruit as you like and 2 tablespoons of apricot preserves and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice microwaved for 45 seconds as glaze.


Music:  Clem Snide - The Junky Jews

Great Grandma's Rhubarb Bread...or Something Like it


I was walking around the market and I found, to my pleasant surprise,  that rhubarb is officially in season...I know, it's an exciting time of year.  So, I ventured into my kitchen shelves and discovered a recipe for rhubarb bread that I am told my Great Grandmother made all the time.  I went to work, modifying the recipe a bit, but it was Nanny Miriam's at heart, and it turned out great. Ingredients 1 1/2 Cup Rhubarb1 Cup Sliced Strawberries1/2 Cup Crushed Walnuts1 Cup MilkTeaspoons Vanilla PasteTablespoon Lemon Juice1/2 Cup Pear Sauce*1/3 Cup Canola*1 Egg1 1/2 Cups Brown Sugar2 1/2 Cups Flour (broken up however you please, wheat, soy, white, etc.)1/2 Cup OatmealTeaspoon SaltTeaspoon Baking Soda*Note:  Pear or Apple Sauce Can be substituted for Vegetable/Canola Oil to cut fat. InstructionsIn a bowl, mix milk, lemon juice, vanilla paste and let sit for 10 minutesIn a separate bowl, mix egg, sugar, pear sauce and oil.In yet another bowl, mix flour, oatmeal, salt and baking sodaMix the dry ingredients into the sugar mixture, alternating with the milk mixture.Cut Rhubarb and StrawberriesFold rhubarb, strawberries and walnuts into batter.Preheat Oven to 325Spray two bread pans and add batter Topping Ingredients Tablespoon Butter1/4 Cup Brown Sugar1/2 Tablespoon CinnamonTopping InstructionsMelt Butter, add sugar and cinnamon and mix.Spread topping on top of batter and bake for 45 minutes.Music:  Ben Harper - Strawberry Fields Forever [...]

Smores Brownies


I had the utmost pleasure of having math class today, which I know it is absurd, because it is a Sunday, but I went with it keeping in mind that old saying, when life gives you Sunday math class, make smores that is precisely what I did.

5 1/3 Tablespoons Melted Butter
1 1/2 Cups Ground Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 Tablespoons Sugar
Dash Cinnamon
Dash Pure Vanilla Powder (from Madagascar) (Omit if you only have extract)

4 Ounces Unsweetened Chocolate 
1 1/2 Sticks of Butter
2 Cups Sugar
Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
3 Eggs
1 Cup Flour
Mini Marshmallows


Melt butter and add crushed graham crackers.  Mixed in cinnamon, sugar and vanilla powder.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and precook for about 5 minutes.  
Melt butter with chocolate.  Do not overcook the chocolate.  It is better to have the chocolate melt completely by the heat of the butter than to overcook the chocolate.  Mix in sugar, vanilla extract, eggs and flour.  Pour the brownie batter onto the crust and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, then add marshmallows and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Music:  Dave Barnes

Pomegranate Teriyaki Chicken



This idea just popped in my head.  I had a bunch of pomegranate juice in the house and was in the mood for some teriyaki, so I thought the combination would bode well.  I looked at how to make a basic teriyaki sauce on several sites, and the recipes were all similar or the same.  This Food Network link is the recipe I followed most closely for teriyaki sauce.


1/3 Cup of Soy Sauce
3/8 Cup Pomegranate Juice 
2 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon of Rice Vinegar
1/2 Spoonful of Minced Garlic (I didn't have any garlic cloves in the house-probably use 1 or 2)
6 Boneless Chicken Breasts 



Mix sauce, pomegranate juice, brown sugar, rice vinegar and garlic until all the sugar has dissolved.  Marinate chicken breasts in the concoction in a resealable bag for several hours.  Bake chicken with marinade in a pan for approximately 35 minutes at 350 degrees
I thought it came out pretty well.  Next time I would have added some more pomegranate juice for a more intense flavor, but definitely good.  I served it topped with sesame seeds with some greens and Israeli couscous with roasted nuts on the side.

Music:  Lupe Fiasco - Paris/Tokyo 

Warm your Hearts with some Chili


I have a fatal weakness for veggie chili.  I guess you might call me a connoisseur of sorts.  So I broke out the 1960s retro cooking pot and made me some chili.  With the aid of English teacher extraordinaire, Cheryl Irving, for the basic recipe, I added my own zest, and made what I think is a delicious chili.  I used a small can of stewed tomatoes and a small can of kidney beans, and it easily fed two for dinner with some leftover for the next day's lunch.

1 Small Can of Stewed Tomatoes
1 Small Can of Kidney Beans
Olive Oil
2 Celery Stalks
2 Carrots
1 Bell Pepper
A Few Cloves of Garlic
2 Mushrooms (Shitaki)
2 Bay Leaves
Chili Powder
Orange Juice

Chop veggies, however way you please.  I used my Alaskan Wedge Chopper (totally made up the name, but it is from Alaska).  Heat your stove and add in two swirls of olive oil.  When the pot is warm add the veggies and sauté.  Drain the kidney beans and after a few minutes add the stewed tomatoes and the beans.  Stir... Add in the following ingredients to taste:  Chili powder, cumin, tabasco and orange juice.  I used about 5 shakes of chili powder, 3 pinches of cumin, a swirl of tabasco and a splash of orange juice.  I also added in around 5 basil leaves and two bay leaves  It had a kick to it, just the way I like it.  Let the pot simmer on low heat until served.  The great thing about chili is that proportions have little effect on overall taste.  It is a perfectly customizable dish.  Enjoy!

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Music:  John Legend, Anthony Hamilton and Marvin Gaye

Scrambled Egg Panini Wrap? SOS



So, I was feeling breakfast for lunch today, and thought, why not make an omelet wrap.  When push came to shove though, the omelet became more of a glorified scrambled egg.  And, though I tried valiantly to make a panini wrap, the wrap was too stale to toast, and the egg amalgamate fell to pieces.  With that being said, although my grandfather might call it SOS, shit on a shingle, it was nonetheless tasty.


Two Eggs
Grilled Bell Peppers (Red and Green)

Chopped Onion
Wrap (a fresh one)
Hoagie Spread
Salt and Pepper


Whisk two eggs in a bowl, adding a dash of water, with some salt and pepper.  Chop up you veggies.  I used onion and peppers because that was what was in the fridge.  Add eggs first to the pan, followed by the veggies and cook.  Put the omelet on the wrap, adding a basil and hoagie spread, fold, and toast in a panini maker for around 3 minutes.

Music:  Squeeze