This idea came to me at the last minute.  In fact, I had another dessert planned, but I wasn’t completely happy with my idea.  Then, I thought of toffee and wondered if you could add tahini to it; after all, there’s peanut butter toffee, so tahini should work.  So I tried it, and you know what?  It’s really good!  Make it this weekend!

12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup tahini
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or you can chop dark chocolate into small pieces)
Toasted sesame seeds
Special equipment: Candy thermometer

Put parchment paper on a baking sheet, and set aside.  In a large saucepan, heat the butter, sugar, and water over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Let the mixture come to a boil, and let it boil, undisturbed, until it reaches 300 degrees on the candy thermometer.  Take the pan off the heat and immediately stir in the vanilla and tahini. (The mixture will bubble up a bit, so be careful.)  Carefully pour the mixture onto the baking sheet, spreading it a bit with a spatula if needed.  Let it cool for 3-5 minutes, then sprinkle the chocolate all over the top.  Let the chocolate sit for a minute or two, until it starts to melt a bit, then start spreading gently with a spatula.  It will continue to melt.  Spread the chocolate evenly over the top.  Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top of  the chocolate. Put the baking sheet in the refrigerator to let it cool and harden, at least an hour.  Once cooled, break into pieces and store in an airtight container (you can store in the fridge if you want).

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Today, I felt a little under the weather, but around 6pm, I felt better all of a sudden and couldn't wait to start baking these! I had been hatching up this idea for the last few days... tahini... I could make a peanut butter cookie, but with tahini instead. And I should add something like lemon, or orange... And then a last minute addition: cinnamon. A perfect aromatic scrumptiousness! Come to think of it, these would make a nice gift, all tied up in a bow... --- Jenny

2 sticks of salted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sesame tahini
1/2 cup almond butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp orange peel, grated

Mix butter, sugar, tahini and almond butter. Add eggs and mix thoroughly. Blend in vanilla. Add flour, baking soda and cinnamon. Fold in orange peel. Bake at 350 degrees 12-15 minutes. Makes 3 dozen.

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The idea for this recipe started to take shape as Jenny and I were discussing things to do for Sesame Week.  She mentioned tahini, which I had actually kind of forgotten (I had sesame seeds and sesame oil on my mind), and immediately I thought of doing something with tahini and chicken.  This recipe is what I came up with, and I was really happy with it.  If you’re looking for something to break you out of the “same old thing” rut that we all tend to get into with chicken, then this is it…make it tonight!

6 bone-in, skin-on, chicken thighs
½ cup tahini
Juice of ½ lemon
Handful of fresh, chopped parsley
1 head of garlic, 3 cloves peeled and minced (leave the peel on the rest and simply separate the cloves)
Salt and pepper to taste
Kosher salt to taste
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small red onion, quartered and cut into chunks
1 lemon, quartered and thinly sliced
1/3-1/2 cup of pitted and halved Kalamata olives
Olive oil

In a small bowl, mix the tahini, juice of half a lemon, parsley, the 3 minced cloves of garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.  Separate the skin from the meat on the chicken (leaving the skin attached) and rub the tahini paste underneath the skin on all of the thighs.  Put the chicken pieces on a large plate and sprinkle all over with kosher salt, then set them in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 2-3 hours; this will help your chicken skin get extra crispy.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a roasting pan, combine the chickpeas, red onion, sliced lemon, remaining garlic cloves, and kalamata olives, and drizzle all over with olive oil, making sure the garlic cloves are well coated.  Arrange the chicken pieces on top and roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until the chicken juices run clear when pierced with a fork (or you can rely on a meat thermometer as I do).

Serve the chicken on top of the chickpea mixture, with pan juices spooned over the top, and if desired, warm pita bread.
NOTE:  Next time I make this, I will double the amount of chickpeas, garlic, onion, and olives that I used.  I went ahead and wrote the recipe as I made it, though, since it's really a matter of personal preference.  Feel free to substitute white onion or green olives if that’s what you have or prefer.

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I’ve always wanted to try Parmesan crisps, and I’ve just never gotten around to it.  So, when I was thinking about what to make this week, I thought of Parmesan crisps and thought that adding some sesame seeds to them might be good.  Let me just say, these are so easy to make, and they are absolutely addictive—Parmesan cheese, sesame seeds…what’s not to love?!  Make them tonight!

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (NOT the powdery stuff in the can)
Sesame Seeds
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Put some parchment paper on a baking sheet (or, if you have one that’s truly non-stick, use it) and arrange the cheese in small circles. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake them for 12 minutes at 400 degrees until they are lightly golden.  Let them cool completely, remove carefully from the parchment paper, and enjoy!

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Wow, guys. I mean, WOW. I surprised myself with this invention. So delicious, and just as good as in the restaurants! This was super easy: no crazy concoctions or techniques, so ANYONE can do it. Personally, I'm not a fan of water chestnut, which would ordinarily go in a recipe like this, so I substituted diced celery for a nice crunch. Ginger adds a wonderful bite of flavor, and the mandarin oranges add the perfect sweetness for a nice twist! 

NOTE: You can use any lettuce, such as Bibb, for lettuce wraps. I chose a two-bite appetizer serving, so endive was my lettuce of choice. Too, you can make a salad out of the whole thing by serving the chicken mix over a bed of lettuce and using the sauce as a dressing!

--- Jenny

1 breast of chicken, cooked and diced
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp ginger, minced
8 oz can mandarin oranges, drained and diced
2-3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients well. (Sesame seeds are easily toasted in a pan on the stove: over medium heat for a few minutes until browned.) Spoon onto endive leaves, or other lettuce, and drizzle with peanut sauce.

Peanut Sauce:
1/2 cup natural (no sugar added) peanut butter
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp honey
juice of two limes (about 1/4 cup)

Mix all ingredients well and drizzle over Thai Sesame Ginger Chicken Bites.

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Oh yes. Sesame Week. This one was a cinch. This dish is something I make pretty regularly, since it's easy, low-cal, and full of stuff that's good for you!
--- Jenny

3-4 tbsp sesame oil
1 large carrot, sliced on the diagonal (Purely aesthetic!)
1/2 red pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 yellow pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 onion, chopped into bite-size pieces
1/2 head broccoli, in bite-size pieces
1 large clove garlic, diced
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fresh ginger, diced
2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
2-3 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted ( toast lightly in a frying pan)
pinch red pepper flakes, if desired
Salt to taste

In a wok or frying pan, saute vegetables in sesame oil. A few minutes before vegetables finish, add garlic, soy sauce, ginger, and chicken. Stir in toasted sesame seeds.Salt to taste and add red pepper if desired. Serve over brown rice.

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