Chachouka

Chachouka is a North African tomato and pepper stew with eggs. I’ve read that it’s also popular in homes throughout Israel, where it is known as Shakshuka. I’ve seen it pop up on some of my favorite food blogs over the years but I didn’t get around to trying it myself until very recently. I’ve no idea why I waited so long: I keep chickens so I always have eggs, and it’s so very easy to make.

This particular Chachouka recipe comes from a stunning new vegetarian cookbook called River Cottage Veg: 200 Inspired Vegetable Recipes. I received a review copy from Ten Speed Press and I’ve been cooking from it quite a bit lately: I made the Potatoes Dauphinoise (page 60) the other night and my family went crazy for them.

I recommend cooking your Chachouka in cast-iron skillet. That way, you can easily transfer it from the stovetop to the oven. (Don’t have a cast-iron skillet? You need one! I’ve had mine for a long time, but it is similar to this one.) Chachouka makes a great brunch, lunch (or light dinner) for 2 people (or maybe 4, if you serve it with a hearty salad, chunks of sourdough bread, etc). Cold leftovers are also quite tasty for breakfast.

Chachouka

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*Disclosure: This post is part of my ongoing relationship with the folks from California Endive Farms. I receive complementary boxes of endive and I am being compensated to develop recipes to share with you; all opinions expressed here are 100% mine.

Grilled Eggplant Dip | Healthy Green Kitchen

Since partnering up with California Endive Farms last year, I have enjoyed more than my fair share of endive. I love having a constant supply in the refrigerator, especially in the winter and early spring when my own garden is sleeping. I have showcased a few different cooked endive recipes here on the blog (such as this one and this one), but I also really love endive raw. It is great in salads (like this and this), and the leaves are the perfect receptacle for filling with all sorts of delicious and healthy dips.

This Grilled Eggplant and Cilantro dip was inspired by the recipe for Charred Eggplant with Chile Sauce and Tahini that I found in the May 2013 issue of Saveur magazine. It’s incredibly easy to make and it’s tasty as part of an appetizer spread (shown here with endive leaves, pita chips, and some walnuts). It’s also great in place of more typical condiments in a sandwich.

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Did you know that lilacs are edible?

Lilacs from www.healthygreenkitchen.com

They are so crazy beautiful and they smell SO good…I absolutely swoon when my bushes begin to bloom. I get a big sad face on when all the flowers drop, so I decided to preserve some of them…in honey!

Lilac honey from www.healthygreenkitchen.com

Have I told you yet about how my bees died? (Cue the sad face again.) Yes, it’s true. My hive was infected with a very bad case of mites in the fall and it made the bees weak and unable to survive the winter. I liked keeping bees alot, so I am really bummed. I will probably get some new bees in the future: not this year, but maybe next.

Anyway, I had to clean out the hive and squeeze all of the honey out of the frames a month or two ago. It was a big job, and a messy, messy one, let me tell you. But I ended up with lots of glorious, dark, raw, unfiltered honey that I’ve truly been savoring. I used that honey to make this recipe.

Making lilac honey is very simple. To make it, just remove lots of (clean and dry) flowers from the lilac stems and pack them into a glass jar (I used one of my teeny Weck ones). You’ll be surprised how many you can fit in the jar if you REALLY pack them in (ie don’t just fill the jar…stuff the jar!). Once your jar is very full, pour honey over the blossoms. Start by pouring just a little, let it settle in amongst the blossoms, then add some more. Repeat until you can’t fit any more honey in the jar. When you check on your honey a day or so later, you will see that the blossoms have all floated toward the top of the jar. Give it a good stir to distribute the blossoms throughout before use. You can use the honey at any point- it does not need to steep, though it’s fine if it does.

Lilacs have a flavor faintly reminiscent of citrus, and they may be a little bitter: I think the honey tempers this bitterness nicely. Lilac honey can be enjoyed on toast, biscuits, muffins, scones, etc. You can also just eat it off a spoon (local, raw honey can be helpful for spring allergies). If you don’t want to make lilac honey, other ways to use lilacs include tossing them into salads or drinks, candying them, or see the recipes I’ve linked to at the end of this post.

Lilac Honey from Healthy Green Kitchen

I want to thank everyone for entering my Weck jar giveaway. I have notified the winner, but if you’d like to receive a discount on Weck jars (plus free shipping if you spend more than $50), you may go ahead and use this link provided by Annie over at Mighty Nest. When you check out, type WECK10 in the promo box to get 10% off. The coupon is good for one week from today.

More recipes featuring lilacs:
Lilac Ice Cream from Cookblog
Lilac Cream Crepes from Taste of Home
Lilac Jelly from Morgan Botanicals

More info on lilacs:
The Secrets of the Lilac by Jeanne Rose
Lovely Lilacs at Care2.com

Cinnamon sugar? On kale chips? I assure you I was incredulous when I first saw this recipe, too. But trust me, this is a combination you really must try.

Cinnamon Sugar Kale Chips from www.healthygreenkitchen.com

I will admit that after making batch after batch of variously spiced kale chips several years ago, I got pretty sick of them. I honestly didn’t care if I ever saw a kale chip again. But then, while perusing Hallie Klecker’s new E-book Crazy for Kale

Crazy for Kale by Hallie Klecker

…I came upon these and knew I had to give them a go.

I made this recipe twice: once when I was home alone (when I had no problem devouring the whole batch) and once for my family (everyone loved them).

If you are already a fan of kale, you will really enjoy Hallie’s E-book. Hallie is such a creative cook, plus all of the recipes are gluten and dairy-free. If you are not already on the kale bandwagon, that’s all the more reason to get the book: you will be inspired!

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I love making homemade body products, and scrubs made with sugar (or salt) are particularly easy to put together. They are pretty inexpensive and another plus: they’re free of the potentially toxic chemicals that similar store-bought products may contain.

Tangerine Sugar Scrub from www.healthygreenkitchen.com

I’ve got a bit of an obsession with tangerines lately, so I used tangerine essential oil, as well as tangerine zest, to scent this scrub. Tangerine essential oil is said to be calming to the mind as well as uplifting to the spirit, which all sounds good to me, but you could certainly use a different essential oil (such as lavender) if you like. In fact, in the photo above, the brown sugar scrub was made with lavender essential oil.

Though I do enjoy the way my skin feels when I exfoliate with sugar (or salt) scrubs, it’s important to note that these can be pretty abrasive. I wouldn’t use this or a similar product on a daily basis because you will quickly strip away your skin’s natural oils if you do. I like to use this type of scrub once or twice a week at most. (According to Dina Falconi, author of Earthly Bodies & Heavenly Hair: Natural and Healthy Personal Care for Every Body, it’s better to use scrubs made from ground grains and seeds if you like to scrub frequently. These gently cleanse and polish, without stripping away the skin’s protective oils.) Another caution: be sure to use care on sensitive areas of your body, such as your face.

I store my scrubs in pretty glass jars. Weck jars are perfect (I used the 1/5 L size, which are slightly smaller than these, but both sizes will work).

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